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Bolt’s long shadow

Bolt's long shadow

Marcell Jacobs crosses first in Tokyo.REUTERS

An objectively magnificent 100-meter final according to the marks, something that, after all, is customary since 10 seconds constitute a continually permeable barrier, left an aftertaste of incomplete emotion, insufficient satisfaction, muted exclamation.

Forever forgetting the fraudulent 9.79 of Ben johnson in Sel ’88, the surprising, unexpected Italian Lamont Marcell Jacobs Born in El Paso (Texas), a tricolor citizen since 2010 and authorized to compete under his new flag in 2012, he would have won with his mark of 9.80 in all editions of the Olympic Games. Except in those of Beijing 2008 and London 2012. Except in those with Usain bolt on the track. It is true that the Jamaican won gold in Ro 2016 with 9.81, and that data speaks in favor of Jacobs. But, already 30 years old and with some recalcitrant ailments, Usain was not equal to himself.

In Beijing Bolt beat with 9.69 (world record) and in London with 9.63, when the new record was already, look at it well, 9.58. In his declining Ro, he still left second place far behind (Justin gatlin, 9.89). In the course of his career Bolt spoiled us by giving us competition after competition a dazzling show. His superiority was never tedious because it was unquestionable. We never lost a pinch of undisputed interest.

It did not end up being routine because we always expected from him a more difficult circus, even faster. And we continue to think, with fresh images on our retina and immovable in our memory, that in some of their records they could be better, more unattainable. In view of the images always available for consultation and recess, the idea that Bolt It fell short is more a certainty than a hypothesis, more a conviction than a presumption.

The first 100-meter Olympic final after Usain, of the Post-Bolt Era, did nothing but highlight the size of the giant’s invisible footprint, the diameter of the hole, of the void left by the king. The thickness of its long shadow, under which athletics is sheltered in a permanent mixture of homage and hope. At least Michael Phelps, with whom he has been compared in supremacist greatness, has had in Caeleb Dressel something very similar to an heir, a successor. Nostalgia for one has not prevented admiration for the other. Both do not get in the way or contradict each other.

Naturally, Bolt’s past figure does not undermine or discredit Jacobs’ current and admirable one. The comparisons are more unfair than hateful. But he does not cease to attribute to the fan a feeling of backwardness, which in other disciplines does not occur because it does not exist or is not so evident. And it is that, sticking to the chronometer, and much more in the modern days, there has been no one like Bolt. And maybe there never will be. Overcoming Usain and his meaning is a challenge not only for athletics, but for sports. It is a challenge for the human being, his nature and his limits.