9.77 in the rain last night led Usain Bolt to another individual global athletics title. He is the heavy favourite for the 200m crown later this week.
If the rain hadn't began falling 30 minutes before his race last night, the same run would have produced a time around a tenth of a second faster, which would have only been another tenth off his 9.58 world record from 2009.
It has been four years since Bolt produced an individual world record. In the time between now and then, alongside and impressive medal tally he has also endured many injury issues that media reports suggest come from a condition he was diagnosed to have many years ago - scoliosis. This is the name given to different forms of severe sideways curvature of the spine that are associated with all sorts of pain and injury in the neck, back and legs.
Most people's posture is slightly asymmetrical with small kinks in the spine. Though Bolt's curvature (without personal observation) looks minor compared to severe cases, running at the speeds he does will exaggerate his issues leading to more injuries and/lower performance levels. Running at 15mph (that's 60 second 400m or 4 minute mile pace) with more weight through one leg and foot, through one side of the lower back, with a stride length difference between your legs, with the arms swinging slightly differently and even with the neck being overused on one side is one thing. Bolt is running at nearly double this pace at his top speed and averages around 23 miles per hour.
At 6'5" with size 15 feet, the world has never seen the likes of an elite sprinter like Bolt. The combination of his stature and his ability to match the stride frequency of his opponents (as well as other factors) means his superior stride length separates him.
Anybody who has seen his 100 and 200m world records knows that he probably has more in the tank. I believe an uninjured Bolt can run under 9.5 for the 100m and possibly under 19 seconds for the 200. An uninjured Bolt can take our ideas about human athletic potential into a new realm. I want to see it. We all want to.
Just like I spoke about in the weekend's post about tuning up the athletic engine, I believe this is the type of thing somebody like Usain would greatly benefit from. He is clearly blessed with an outrageously powerful 'machine' which just needs a bit of tuning up to have him performing like he really can.
From snippets of him in interviews, I have heard a little about how his team are working with him to help him through these problems. Unfortunately, his brilliant team seem to be using methods that still aren't doing the job. At Float Sting, I use methods that could help and I know other coaches who could help too. We are nothing special - we just use different models that happen to be more suited to providing progress and solutions in specific scenarios.
The internet isn't a small place but word on here can travel far. If Usain or any of his team ever come across this, I would be happy to help or refer you to somebody else who can. I don't really care if it's me - I would genuinely just love to see him running easily and comfortably again so that he can blow millions of minds again and again. Even in his current state, new records are possible. A more symmetrical, smoother Bolt has the been chance of striking hardest.
My fingers are firmly crossed for the full and speedy recovery of the fastest man the world has ever seen. Everybody wants to see this jovial whopper really have some fun.
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