In confirming his status as the world's fastest man, Jamaica's Usain Bolt, the most animated showman in track and field, paid the highest tribute he could to his U.S. rival Tyson Gay: He played it straight. Bolt ran hard through the finish line at the world championships in Berlin on Sunday night, and in doing so lowered his world record in the 100 meters to an astounding 9.58 seconds from the 9.69 he ran at the Olympics in Beijing. There Bolt cost himself perhaps a tenth of a second by craning his head down the stretch as if searching in vain for some competition. This time the Jamaican allowed himself only a glance at the trackside clock as he reached the finish. Had he looked to his right, he would have gotten an eyeful of Gay, whose silver-winning time of 9.71 was the fastest ever run by anyone other than Bolt. "Give Tyson credit," said Bolt. "He made me work for it pretty seriously."
Bolt clearly respected the challenge of Gay, the world champ at 100 and 200 meters in 2007 who hurt his hamstring at the Olympic trials last summer and failed to qualify for the finals in Beijing. After the Jamaican won his semifinal heat in 9.89 seconds earlier in the evening, he watched on a monitor under the Olympic Stadium as Gay won his heat in 9.93. After Gay crossed the line, Bolt made a gun-shooting motion with his left hand and nodded as he strutted away from the monitor. He was confident, but he was aware of his slim margin for error. "I don't think I'm in Beijing shape," Bolt said after the finals. "I had to run a good race tonight."
Bolt didn't waste any time. Usually a slow starter, he shot out of the blocks and established a decisive lead over the field in the first 20 meters. "I've been saying all year it was humanly possible to run that fast," said Gay after the race. "Unfortunately it wasn't me."
SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE
A player in the English Premier League told a judge he was driving 112 mph because he thought the police car chasing him was filled with angry fans from a rival team.
BILL FRAKES (BOLT)
SUMMER BREEZE Bolt's 9.58 shaved more than a tenth of a second off the mark.