The greatest sporting moments of 2008

When Bolt rewrote the record books.

usain bolt 88 (photo credit: )
usain bolt 88
(photo credit: )
One of the oldest clichés in sport is that records are meant to be broken. Well, this record wasn't supposed to be. When Michael Johnson smashed the 200 meters mark at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, improving his previous best by more than three tenths of a second, many compared it to Bob Beamon's remarkable long jump record from the 1968 Mexico City Games. Beamon's 8.90m leap stood for almost 23 years and many thought Johnson's best of 19.32 seconds would remain unattainable for just as long. What no one knew at the time, however, was that while Johnson was roaring round the track in Atlanta in his unique style, a 10-year-old boy from Jamaica was already starting to show signs of future promise. While Usain Bolt's 100m triumph at the Beijing Games was unforgettable, it wasn't unexpected. Bolt entered the Olympics as the world record holder and he was widely expected to improve his personal best once more in China. The 22-year-old Jamaican was also the clear favorite in the 200m final, but Johnson's record seemed to be out of reach. After all, Bolt's previous best prior to August 20th's final was 19.63s, and it was hard to see how he could better his own record by more than three tenths of a second, a lifetime in sprinting terms. Nevertheless, the atmosphere in and around the Bird's Nest in Beijing was electric ahead of the start of the 200m final. Everybody watching knew that barring tragedy Bolt would win his second gold medal of the Games, but all wanted to see if the long legged Jamaican could defy all odds and record history. Right from the start it was obvious that Bolt was head and shoulders above his opponents and that his only rival was the clock. Unlike the 100m final, Bolt put all he had into the race until the finish line, flying down the track to set an amazing new world record of 19.30s, and followed it up by giving the Beijing Olympics one of its most memorable moments with his post-race celebrations. In the past one of the first reactions to the Jamaican's stunning time would be to brand it untouchable for many years to come. However, Bolt's monumental achievement actually demonmstrates the exact opposite. It may be hard now to see anybody improving Bolt's time, but somewhere out there there's a boy who, just like Bolt, will one day prove that a record, any record, is meant to be broken.