Bolt shatters 100-meter world record

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BERLIN - Usain Bolt crossed the finish line, saw his record-setting time on the clock and spread his arms as if he were soaring like a bird.

About all this guy can't do is fly. And by saving his celebration until after the finish line this time, he showed how fast a man really can go on two feet.

The Jamaican shattered the world record again Sunday, running 100 meters in 9.58 seconds at the world championships to turn his much-anticipated race against Tyson Gay into a one-man show.

That was 0.11 seconds faster than the mark he set last year at the Beijing Olympics - the biggest improvement in the 100-meter record since electronic timing began in 1968.

Gay, his closest rival, broke the American mark with his 9.71 performance and still looked like he was jogging - finishing a few big strides behind Bolt in second place.

Bolt's only competition these days is the clock.

And when he's really trying, not hot-dogging it over the line the way he did in China, even time itself doesn't stand a chance.

"I don't run for world records," said Bolt, who crossed the line, his yam-colored Pumas kicking high, with a slight breeze at his back on a clear summer night in Germany.

Yet those records always seem to find him.

He thinks he can go even lower.

"I know I said 9.4," Bolt said, grinning. "You never know. I'll just keep on working."

The record came on the one-year anniversary of his 9.69 in Beijing, when Bolt shut his race down early, waving his arms and celebrating about 10 meters before he got to the line. Some, like Jacques Rogge of the International Olympic Committee, viewed it as a sign of bad sportsmanship. Most saw it as a welcome sigh of relief for a sport that needed some good news after years of doping and scandal.

Even this week, the Jamaican track team was making HEAD:s for the wrong reasons - a complicated doping case. Then a group of athletes who were uninvited to the worlds by the country's track officials because they didn't participate in team training camp got reinvited at the request of international officials.

Bolt made everyone forget about that and showed, once again, what a great sport track can be when the focus is on the oval, not doping control and the meeting rooms.

Bolt ran his latest unforgettable race at Olympic Stadium in Berlin, the history-filled home of the 1936 Olympics where Jesse Owens became the world's biggest track star. Bolt lives in Owens' stratosphere now, having set the 100 world record three times and also owning the 200-meter record thanks to the 19.30 he ran in Beijing to break Michael Johnson's 12-year-old mark.

Now he has added the world championship, last won by Gay in 2007, to his Olympic title.

A Stanford professor estimated he could've gone about 9.55 if he'd run full out through the line in Beijing. Bolt almost made that guy look like a genius.

"He's like a created game person," American Darvis Patton said. "I can't imagine going 9.71 and not winning. That will win every race in history except for today (and at the Olympics)."

It's easy to see how Bolt became such a crowd favorite, unlike many of the stoic champions of the past. He loves to entertain. He is rewriting the record books and changing the face of track in another way - putting a smile on it.

Before climbing into the blocks, Bolt gave spectators a quick wave and did his trademark bow-and-arrow pose.

That drew big applause.

Then the real show started.

Unlike the Olympics, when he skidded from the blocks, Bolt burst out this time, opening a sizable lead on the field after 20 meters.

From there, it could have been a stroll in the park. But there was no letting up this time. Before crossing the line, he glanced to his right to check on Gay once - not in the picture - and then back at the clock. His face lit up as he spotted the digits "9.58" appear on the screen next to the track.

The party was on. He grabbed a flag and did a victory lap with countryman Asafa Powell, who finished with the bronze (9.84).

They even stopped midway down the track and did a little dance number. Too bad the song wasn't from rapper Akon, who wrote about the sprinter in a song, the lyric going, "Quicker than Usain Bolt, the fastest thing runnin'."

Next came pictures - lots of flashes popping - and hugs as Bolt greeted everyone who called his name - and they were numerous. The entire victory lap took about 20 minutes.

Or about 19:50.42 longer than it took to run his 100.

Standing back at the finish line, waiting for him to finish up, was Gay. He paced around, clearly agitated.

Not in anger at losing, though.

No, he wanted off the track, but wasn't allowed by an official. Gay was complimentary of his rival in a race that lived up to the hype.

"I've been telling you someone could run 9.5," Gay said. "I'm happy he did it, it showed a human can take it to another level. Unfortunately, I wasn't the one to do it, but I still have confidence I can do it one day."

Gay didn't have much of a chance. Not against Bolt. And certainly not with a groin injury that he admitted to Saturday. He said it was worse than he let on, but refused to use it as a convenient excuse.

"I showed a lot of heart," Gay said. "I put it together the best I could."

Powell was right beside Bolt his entire journey around the track, then through the interview area.

For Powell, Bolt is like a blessing. The one-time world-record holder no longer carries the weight of a country by himself. In fact, he's becoming a bit player in these dramas.

"He really knows how to perform under pressure," Powell said. "I need to take a page out of his book."

All sprinters would love to.

The big question, though, is whether it's realistic to aim for Bolt.

"There's nothing you can do about what Usain Bolt does," Johnson said in an interview last month. "Just be the best they can be. What Usain Bolt is able to do should be fuel as to what's possible."

Possible for one man, at least. The rest of the competition is simply watching him from afar.

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oldenuff2nobetter
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oldenuff2nobetter 08/17/09 - 04:31 am
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9.58 for 110 meters computes

9.58 for 110 meters computes to 8.8 for the 100 yard dash. Wow!

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