There’s something incredibly impressive about being the best in the world at something when people are trying to screw with you every step with the way.
In the case of Usain Bolt, he’s exceptional at running very, very fast. So fast that if he were a satellite NBC wouldn’t be showing the Olympics on a nine hour delay to their viewers. So fast that if he were were a Twitter server, we wouldn’t know about the Fail Whale. So fast that if he were a clock, Justin Bieber’s 15 minutes would have barely been noticeable and the world would be happy.
He’s that fast. Have you heard?
Training is developing your routine — finding a way to push your body to its furthest extent of excellence and making it the standard take lots of repetition. Professional basketball players have elaborate free throw routines, some people have musical accompaniments they like, Usain Bolt has his favourite warm up skipping rope.
Or, at the very least, he’s supposed to.
At the 100m final on Sunday, Usain Bolt was not allowed to bring his training rope into the arena for his warm up routine. A rule conscious usher told him it simply wasn’t allowed. The thing is, though, there’s no rule against it and it wasn’t the only time he was meddled with in preparation for the biggest track event in the world.
“Oh my God, why are there so many rules?! You can’t do nothing,” he [Bolt] told reporters after opening the defence of his 200m title with an easy heat win.
“It’s weird, some of the rules. I was coming in a while ago and I had my skipping rope in my bag and they said I can’t bring it in. I was like, ‘Why?’. ‘It’s just the rules’,” he said.
“I am going to do it tomorrow … I am going to stick it under my bag, bottom of my bag or something.”
Coe, the Games chief, said skipping ropes were “not expressly banned”.
“I will look at this,” he said. “I presume the skipping rope was a warm-up aid so I will look at that.”
It was not clear at what exact point Bolt’s rope was taken off him.
“If it was taken away before the stadium, then that is not correct,” said organising committee spokeswoman Jackie Brock-Doyle. “If it was taken before he entered the field of play (track), then that is probably correct. We are still looking into it.”
That was just the beginning. As Bolt was nearing the moment of the race itself, continuing his warmup and trying to get loose, it was made clear to him that he wasn’t getting ready for the race properly and he needed to shape up.
“I was at the line and the guy was telling me to line up, to stay in a straight line. I’m like, ‘Really? We are about to run and you’re going to tell me to stand in a straight line?’. It’s kind of weird, these rules, which doesn’t make any sense to me personally.”
Again, this is the biggest race in the world. And to make things worse, he had to ignore a Heineken bottle crashing in behind him at the start line. As far as record setting days at the office go, this one was trying.
There’s a certain brand of absurdity which has come with these Usain Bolt stories and, if we’re doing a candid appraisal here, it reeks of individual heroes trying to take down the world’s greatest down a peg or two. The premier event at the Summer Games, and arguably any form of the Olympics, is the 100m dash. To have people confiscating warm up items from the world’s fastest man and forcing him to line up a certain way when there are no rules in place seems incredibly odd if we want to roll with another explanation.
The point which really shouldn’t need to be stated is that this competition is far too important to have power crazed volunteers interfering with athletes. It happens at amateur events all the time, a volunteer thinks that they are a gatekeeper of Ghostbusters proportions and is happy to lay the wood on anyone who crosses their authority. But please, for the love of God, not at the Olympic games, and certainly not the biggest events, and most definitely not to the best of all time at said events.
Especially if that person is all-world awesome the way Usain Bolt is.
You can take away his skipping rope, you can line him up in a straight line, but you can’t run faster than Usain Bolt and neither can anyone else, ever. The 200m semifinal goes on Wednesday, the 200m final goes on Thursday. He will sneak his skipping rope in, he will line up wherever he wants. He will probably win and by a lot at that.
Don’t trifle with the man. Playing with explosives is hazardous.
Cap tip to Darren Kritzer who tipped me off to this story of discontent.