Usain Bolt gave his fans so much, and swept to a triple treble at the Rio Olympics before signing off from the grandest of sporting stages.
If at all the biggest showman of track and field left his fans a touch dissatisfied, that would be because he did not better his 100m world record, an almost superhuman run of 9.58 seconds at the Berlin world championships in 2009.
His compatriot and great rival Asafa Powell believes that was a ‘perfect’ run and will take some effort to break. Bolt’s run in Germany made Powell’s own best look slow. Powell held the 100m world record between 2005 and 2008, and his world best of 9.72 seconds set in Lausanne in 2008 is still the fifth fastest ever.
“Usain had a great race (in Berlin, 2009). It was a perfect race,” Powell said in a media interaction organised on Friday by Puma ahead of the Delhi half-marathon.
Bolt has also not bettered his 200m world record of 19.19 seconds set in the same Berlin worlds.
Powell explained that 100m record was so special. “I was in that race. I was pretty much the best starter in the world and he was already ahead of me at the start. So, he had a great race. It’s going to be very hard for someone to come and match that run.
“I would say it is likely to stand for a very long time.”
The footage of that race shows Bolt leaving the field gasping in the first few strides. American Tyson Gay then pushed Powell to third.
The semi-retired Bolt has given himself a farewell race, at the 2017 world championships in London. Powell, who will turn 34 on Wednesday, is four years older.
Powell said he hoped to sign off with the 2018 Commonwealth Games. He has the most sub-10 100m runs – 97. He can push that figure to 100 if all goes to plan at London.
However, he expected Jamaica’s 4x100m relay record (36.84) set in the 2012 London Games to fall, hopefully to the holders themselves at the same venue next year, he said.
Powell failed to win a major title, overshadowed as he was by Bolt. But he had no regrets and picked team mate Yohann Blake to succeed Bolt as the world’s best sprinter.
“For many years people expected me to win a big title but I fell short. Still, I achieved a lot, but I kept getting injured, they happened at the wrong time. Other people didn’t know the background of everything. They see us only on the track and expect world records and gold medals.”
Powell refused to comment on the doping scandals in the past year, describing it as a ‘tough subject’. He was banned for 18 months in 2014 for taking a banned stimulant oxilofine at the Jamaican national championships the previous year. But the punishment was cut to six months after an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
His rivalry with Bolt has marked Jamaican athletics in the last decade, but Powell said the intensity had tapered off.
“Back in the days it was intense. I have known him for a long time. It’s a friendly rivalry, but on the track it is real rivalry. Off it, we are cool. Back in the days the tension between the guys was really different. But over the years, we’ve been having a lot of fun.”