- 20 Aug 08, 06:49 PM
In a wonderful week from an amazing athlete, this was the most staggering moment of all.
19.30 seconds? Jaws dropped. Gobs were smacked, flabbers were gasted.
That shouldn't have been possible. Michael Johnson's 200m world record was supposed to be untouchable. Usain Bolt was supposed to be tired after running eight races in six days.
Bolt, we should know now, makes the impossible real.
"I blew my mind," he said afterwards, "and I blew the world's mind."
This was one of the top two or three performances in athletics history, produced by a 21-year old who should probably now be hailed the finest sprinter the world has seen.
It sounds like too much, like hyperbole - but how can you argue with 9.69 and 19.30?
Bolt's 100m was a thing of brilliant insousiance, of spectacular exuberance.
On Wednesday night we saw a different Usain. Before he settled on his blocks, there was the same clowning and posing as before his record-breaking run last Saturday - wiping his hands across his glistening head at increasing pace before holding the archer's pose as the crowd roared its delight.
When the gun sounded, however, there was no coasting the last 20 metres, no holding his arms out like an airplane, no looking up at the stands as he flew towards the line.
Tonight, there was no mistaking the effort. He hammered out of the blocks, had a gap of three metres coming off the bend and then poured in every last drop of energy he had, gritting his teeth, driving with his arms, throwing himself at the line.
When he glanced to his left and saw the clock, he threw his head back and then collapsed to the track, forehead and hands flat on the ground.
The 200m is his event. This was the record he wanted.
"I knew I could go that fast," he said. "But I told myself if I was going to get the world record it had to be here, because the track is so fast.
"So I went out there and gave it my all, and left everything on that track."
So unique is Bolt that he does all this on a diet they've banned from school menus as unhealthy.
After getting out of bed at midday, he got his masseur to bring him some chicken nuggets for breakfast.
"Then I came straight to the track, and my massuers brought me some more nuggets," he said. "I just ate two though because my coach said I shouldn't eat so many nuggets."
Bolt had two great athletics heroes as a youngster - Johnson and Jamaican sprint great Don Quarrie.
In the last week, he has outdone them both, first by eclipsing Johnson's greatest single achievement and then becoming the first man since Quarrie to hold both 100m and 200m world records at the same time.
Steve Cram, who was commentating on the race for BBC Television, was stunned by what he saw.
"It's very hard to put that into perspective," he said. "Johnson's record was in the Bob Beamon league of world records, the sort that you think will stay around for 20 years.
"Those sort of records are generally only broken when you have at least a couple of great athletes going head-to-head. Usain did that entirely by himself.
"People haven't been getting close to this record. With Seb Coe's 800m world record, athletes were running close to it even when it wasn't being broken, but that's not the case with Johnson's mark.
"Bolt did it too into a headwind of 0.9 m/s. Without that, he would have gone closer to 19.20. It was a privilege to watch."
Had Bolt merely completed the sprint double, merely in a sluggush time of, oh, 19.60 or something, it still would have been a historic achievement.
The double's only previously been done eight times in the 24 Olympics since the 200m was introduced in 1900.
They'd all have been left staring at Bolt's golden heels.
"Johnson revolutionised the sport, but I just changed it a bit," said Bolt modestly afterwards.
Johnson described Bolt as "Superman" after this run. Bolt's reaction to that comment told you a great deal.
"I'm Lightning Bolt! I'm not Flash Gordon or anybody. My name is Bolt - Lightning Bolt."
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