Bolt reignites 100m interest
Just before I left London for Beijing my godson asked me: "Who will win the 100 metres?"
I was more than a little surprised to hear the question.
My godson, although not involved professionally with sport, has great interest in it and runs his own basketball team.
But I was surprised because it had been a long time since anyone had asked me about the 100m sprint.
Clearly the arrival of Usain Bolt and the prospect of his rivalry with Asafa Powell and Tyson Gay had sparked an interest in the event which we have not had since the 1988 Olympics.
Remember that before the event unravelled on that shameful night in Seoul, there were three potential rivals who promised a memorable race: Ben Johnson, Carl Lewis and Linford Christie.
We did not know how awful that race would be, nor suspect that with Johnson's cheating, the 100m would die as a race where the anticipation would always be about athletic prowess not drugs.
One of the main achievements of Bolt may have been to make us believe that the 100m is once again the greatest event of the Olympics bar none, the event everyone looks forward to.
The honour of being the fastest man on earth has once again acquired some real meaning.
If added proof was needed of the impact Bolt has made, this came from the reaction of the women participating in the heptathlon.
They had just finished their event and with arms linked, jogged round the track receiving the crowd's acclaim.
Then they lined up in the stands, trying to squeeze into what space they could, to watch this remarkable race and this remarkable runner.
It was like girls at a school sports day gathering to watch the school sports star. Rather touching and part of the special appeal of the Olympics and the excitement generated by Bolt.
Bolt, of course, is well aware of this.
Twenty four hours after his feat, as he collected his medal, he posed on the stadium as if he was drawing on a large Cuban cigar.
Jamaicans who know him say this is not sign of an inflated ego but of the child in him.
Great moments in sport resonate long after the event is over.
You play it back in your mind, retell stories to friends and colleagues who have witnessed it, tell each other where you were when the event happened, analyse it from different angles and search for new ways of interpreting it.
All this has has been going in Beijing ever since 10.30pm on Saturday.
And the first voices were from the world of athletics saying Bolt with a single run had put Michael Phelps in his place.
Yes, Phelps has broken Spitz's record, which had stood for 36 years.
But while not too many people will recall individual moments of Phelps swimming - Bolt showboating 15m from the finish of a 100 metres race is now part of sporting legend.
The last week may been all about the deeds on the water. Now with a single race lasting less than ten seconds Bolt has regained the crown that in the Olympics always belongs to the track.
But unfortunately the drugs history of Olympics past still casts a huge shadow.
We live in sceptical, disbelieving times and this means in hailing Bolt's extraordinary achievement questions are also asked that reflect people's doubts and fears.
I'm not for a minute suggesting that he has cheated in any way but this is, of course, the burden Bolt, a clean athlete who has never failed a drug test, carries.
The burden of Olympics drug history destroying public credibility in the Games. Indeed when you raise this issue with Jamaicans they get very angry.
Bolt has been tested three times since he came to Beijing.
There have been over 32 tests conducted on the Jamaicans and twenty of their 49 athletes have been tested. Of course all have been found to be clean.
But if this is a legacy he has to live with because of the Olympics failure to catch cheats, there are other questions raised by the very manner of his victory.
Why did he not put his head down and smash the world record? Why showboat 15m before the end?
The theory, as advanced even in the Jamaican camp, is he is that he is following Sergei Bubka's example.
Bubka broke the pole vault record incrementally, every time he broke it it meant more money for him.
Bolt has more races to run, more opportunities to break it again and again and every time he does so he will increase his market value.
Olympics may not be about money, only medals, but can you blame any athlete for trying to convert gold into hard cash as often as he can.
And, of course, Bolt is well aware of how coveted he is by the world.
About two weeks ago when he arrived in Beijing, few people on his flight recognised him, he carried his own bags and he came in to the city unheralded.
On Sunday afternoon I, along with some of the world's media, waited in a posh Beijing hotel for a glimpse of him.
The occasion was a launch to promote Jamaica as a destination by the Minister of Tourism and launch plans for a 100m beach sprint event on the island.
The Jamaican Tourism ministry had laid on a buffet where the minister hoped to welcome Bolt.
But Bolt was too tired to come, and the minister had to make do with Miss World instead.
It is a measure of Bolt's status that hardly anyone looked at her and everyone wanted to know when Bolt would come and how they could meet him.
It was a case of speed, and the manner in which the speed was displayed to the world, winning over beauty, which, after all, is only skin deep.
Bolt has more to offer than what we saw on Saturday night.
And for that matter so do the Jamaicans whose women had a remarkable 1-2-3 in their 100m on Sunday night.
There could well be more golds on the track for the Jamaicans who are threatening American dominance, and have already eclipsed them in the sprints.
Even now the Jamaican success raises questions of how an island of 2.6m people can be so successful.
The Jamaican answer is that they believe in harnessing young talent and nurturing it through school with teachers and coaches prepared to devote their spare time to do so.