Even before the fun-loving - and need I mention fast - Usain Bolt and his
fellow sprinters took the track, the near-capacity crowd at the World
Championships was in an uproar.
During the last heat of the women's heptathlon 800, one of the German
athletes, Jennifer Oeser, who was contending for a medal in the
heptathlon, got knocked or fell off the track as she was completing the
first of two laps. But she quickly jumped up and started running faster
than before, trying to make up the 25 meters she had lost in the fall.
Amazingly, she did it in less than 300 meters. As she closed the gap, step
by step, the volume of the crowd cheers increased accordingly, until it
was completely deafening.
By virtue of her extraordinary performance, Oeser clinched the silver
medal for herself and her country and the 60,000 or so Germans in
attendance were giving her all the love they could. At the end of the
race, the cheering continued non-stop, even as the runners gasped for air
and collapsed onto the track.
Then the 29 heptathlon competitors began a victory lap, all together
holding hands. The atmosphere was electric.
While all that was going on, the finalists in the men's 100 were on the
track, waiting for their turn, and no one upstages Usain Bolt.
For a few moments in the stadium, none of the security guards, volunteers,
press corps, etc. were doing their jobs. The aisles were packed, with
everyone getting as close as they could to finish line. I got to within
about 10 rows up, right on the finish but even there it was hard to see
with so many people watching.
After all the mugging for the cameras during introductions, they were all
business. Tyson Gay ran an incredible race, setting a national record, and
kept it close. Asafa Powell had his best race in a championship meet. But
Bolt was still the show, running an unbelievable 9.58, and dominating
start to finish. And this time he ran hard, all the way to the finish
line. We finally got to see what he could run when he stayed serious for
the whole race.
After the race, of course, he was not serious. But it was all
good-natured, Jamaican-style fun. The press conference just ended here and
Bolt, Gay and Powell were all gracious and friendly to each other. You
can't complain about his exuberance. It's probably good for the sport in
the long run.
Other great stuff happened today - a lot of it setting the stage for races
tomorrow and the next day. Sanya Richards facing a very tough field in the
400 meters. Bershawn Jackson and Kerron Clement, polar opposites in so
many ways, battling for supremacy in the men's 400 intermediate hurdles. A
wide-open brawl in the women's 100 looms tomorrow night - probably any one
of 5 or 6 women could win it. And then Bolt returns for more in the 200
This party is only getting started!