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Donovan Bailey (Globe and Mail)
Donovan Bailey (Globe and Mail)

Donovan Bailey

Jamaican star bringing track back into the spotlight Add to ...

I am one of the most blessed humans on this planet. Not only did I have the opportunity to compete for a great nation and break world records, but I am fortunate to be here in Berlin and witness to the greatest performance by a sprinter in a stadium that has so much history.

Superstar Usain Bolt has extended his phenomenal legacy by destroying his own world record he set so easily in Beijing exactly one year ago.

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After being crowned Olympic champion in Beijing, he can now add the titles world champion and The Greatest of All Time.

It's easy to forget just how young this man is - just shy of his 23rd birthday - and that he took up this event seriously only three years ago. He's got many years of competing and many technical aspects of his race to work on to improve his time (yes, believe it). My observation from Beijing was that he was capable of 9.5 seconds given the ease in which he ran 9.69 (the old world record). It's strange saying that, but I believe that he has the ability to improve and continue to take this record where, not that long ago, was thought not physically possible for a human being.

Bolt's start is much better than last year as he gets into the acceleration phase of his race much smoother than he did in Beijing.

American Tyson Gay ran a valiant race, finishing a distant second in 9.71 seconds. He appeared to still be suffering from a groin injury during the rounds but pulled through in the final to break his own American record - which would have been the world record one year ago.

Bolt's Jamaican teammate, Asafa Powell, has always been accused of not showing up in the big finals, and I am happy he got the bronze in a time of 9.84 seconds, my world record time from the Atlanta Olympics in 1996.

Bolt has been criticized in some quarters for his crazy antics on and off the track. As track and field has become more professional, we must recognize that the best athletes, in track particularly, are literally kids, and the jovial characteristics you see from Bolt and others are just that - a bunch of kids having fun. They also happen to be the very best on the planet.

Most people who have played sport at the highest level understand that locker room camaraderie, but these competitors all completely respect the champions before them and their current competitors. Bolt's easygoing attitude is attracting more fans, more television, more corporate sponsorship and that can only be good for the sport. Track and field is almost back to its heyday as a truly global sport.

King Bolt or Sir Bolt, need we forget, is just getting started. He still has the 200 metres and the 4x100-metre relay events left in this competition. The 200 final runs on Thursday and the relay is on the weekend. Watch for more antics and possibly more records to fall.

The ghost of the legendary Jesse Owens is alive and kicking here in Berlin, and it's great to see Sir Bolt putting his own stamp on this stadium's incredible legacy.

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