IAAF gamble on Bolt paid off big time

The signs were unmistakeable. Bolt was brought into Korea a little earlier than usual to feature in the promotion of the championships and to get the South Korean people excited ahead of the nine-day games.

Before that, his image was emblazoned on public buses and posters. Intriguingly, in an ad on a bus, Bolt was shown holding a huge foot of running shoes, with the message “Less weight more faas”, a suggestion that even our patois language had gone “abroad’.

The IAAF must have panicked when Bolt false started and could not defend his men 100 metres crown which was to have given the championships the start they had scripted.

But the phenomenon that he is, Bolt somehow never fell off track as the media kept talking about him and anticipating his 200m race, which was now even more tantalising.

In the meantime, the IAAF seemed willing to re-look its false start rule by which Bolt was dethroned in the 100m. It issued an unusually vague press statement after the false start, saying it was disappointed but that it has to operate by rules. Ordinarily, one would have expected a firm statement standing by the rule. But they would not risk that because it was Bolt.

Perhaps, the biggest sign of all was that the IAAF rejigged its traditional schedule of events to cause the championships to end, not with the usual 4×400 men’s relay but with the 4×100 men’s relay. In other words to end with lightning Bolt. And did it pay off.

Running the anchor leg — interestingly for the first time at a major championship (did the IAAF have anything to do with that?) — Bolt flew with the purple baton he had just taken from the fantastic Yohan Blake who, fortuitously had taken his 100m metre crown and kept it safe in Jamaica. Blake himself had taken the baton from the reliable Michael Frater who got it from Nesta Carter. Each leg seemed faster than the other, ending in a world record victory, the only one of the 2011 games. What a climax!

Only Jamaicans could have been happier than the IAAF and, perhaps, PUMA, Bolt’s biggest promoter.

To sweeten the pot, the IAAF organised to present Bolt’s 200m medal after the 100m relay. That was followed by the medal presentation for the 100m relay. Appropriately, it was Jamaica’s IAAF Council member, Teddy McCook who presented the medals.

In between, the Jamaican female sprint relay team had taken silver in a national record and a demonstration of female beauty and speed on the run.

So the strains of the Jamaican National Anthem were heard over Daegu twice in that final morning and the black, green and gold flag fluttered in the breeze three times over. It was sheer unbridled Jamaican joy and magic in Daegu. Even though the Caribbean island had placed only fourth on the medal table – with its four gold, four silver and one bronze – the undisputed star of the 13th IAAF World Championships was Usain Bolt and by extension Jamaica.

 

 

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