LONDON - Amid the soaring triumphs and tawdry scandals underscoring the first decade of the new millennium, Usain Bolt reminded the world why sport captivates and excites so many people.
A roar of disbelief greeted the tall Jamaican in Beijing's Bird's Nest Stadium last year after he shattered the world 100m record and became the first person to run under 9,7 seconds.
The wonder was provoked not just by the time but by the manner in which the race was run and won. Bolt made a mockery of the previous world mark and the efforts of his hapless opponents, despite slowing down and glancing left and right well before the finish.
He set another world record in the 200m final, this time bettering Michael Johnson's 1996 mark, and added a third when the Jamaicans won the 4x100m relay.
This year, again without appearing to extend himself unduly, Bolt went under 9,6 for the 100m and again broke the 200m mark at the Berlin IAAF World Championships.
Bolt on the track, Michael Phelps in the pool and Yelena Isinbayeva through the air showed that the most elemental Olympic sports can be the most satisfying.
Phelps won a record eight gold medals in nine days in Beijing with seven world records while Isinbayeva raised her own women's pole-vault record to 5,05m, her 24th world mark.
Awe at Bolt's extraordinary feats near the end of the decade followed widespread unease prompted by events at the start. Bolt has never failed nor missed a drugs test and the giant stride that eats up the ground faster than any of his contemporaries gives a plausible genetic explanation for his staggering feats. - Reuters