By Gary Smith for World-Track
NEW YORK, USA – It’s almost one year since Usain Bolt ignited the sprinting world with his phenomenal performances in Beijing, but his accomplishments are still lingering in the minds of his fellow rivals.
He is getting his mind ready for a 200-metre outing at the Reebok Grand Prix here on Saturday, but American sprint star Tyson Gay can’t help but to reflect on the time Bolt ran to win the 100m title at the Olympic Games last summer.
After losing to Bolt in a world record race at the Reebok Grand Prix on this same track last year, Gay said he knew it would have taken something special to win the Olympic crown. He, however, was not predicting the resulting 9.69seconds time.
“What Usain Bolt did at the Olympics was amazing. He shocked me,” Gay said, who recalled being “in awe” after watching the replays afterwards.
“I wasn’t thinking about 9.69 at the Olympics. I was thinking 9.7something was going to win. Everybody knows I’d have needed to go 9.6something.
“When I watched it on the big screen and saw the instant replay, that was what gave me the wow and shock. I didn’t see it in the first race but in the replays, it was ridiculous.
"Watching that video, I tried picturing myself being there but I just couldn’t. It was pretty hard.
“I wasn’t race-sharp and I wasn’t ready to put it down at that time. I think I had shown I was ready to run fast, just not at that time,” he added.
Meanwhile, former world record holder Asafa Powell, who is listed among the starters to race in the 100m at Saturday’s Reebok Grand Prix at the Icahn Stadium, admits that Bolt’s break through season last year has changed the world of sprinting.
“I think everyone is training to run 9.6, because Usain shows it’s possible,” Powell, who anchored Jamaica to a world record gold medal in the 4x100m in Beijing.
For the second successive Olympic Games Powell failed to get amongst the medallist, after finishing a disappointing fifth in the finals of the 100m in the Bird’s Nest.
But instead of sitting down and feeling sorry for himself, the 2006 Commonwealth Games champion, says he uses the race in Beijing as his motivation.
“When I watch the replay of the Olympic Games, I don’t look at myself. I look at Usain, and him crossing the finish line,” Powell admits.
“It motivates me to train my heart out, to try to finish ahead of him or try to finish closer to him. But what he did, you have to give him credit.”
Powell also acknowledged that Bolt has definitely become a huge impact in the life of Jamaicans.
“Before when you’d ask people about Jamaica, they’d say Bob Marley. Now, they say Usain (Bolt).
“It motivates the younger kids to come out. They have talents, they just have to use it.”
Richard Thompson, the Trinidadian who followed Bolt in Beijing, agrees with Powell that world record holder has sprung life in the world of sprinting, but also thinks he will be under pressure to keep up with his own standards.
“I think it makes it easier for the rest of the sprinters, because Usain is the one with all the pressure on him,” Thompson, who won two silver medals at the Olympics, said.
“Everyone expects him to be first and everybody else second. At the same time, Usain is the benchmark for sprint.
“Having run 9.6, and the way he ran it, other people are working harder to get there. We aren’t going to sit back and allow him to dominate the way he did last year. It’s going to be interesting in years to come."