It’s worth keeping in mind that there is a significant difference between the final seconds of Usain Bolt’s gold-medal run in Beijing in 2008 and the final seconds of his victory this afternoon in Call of Duty. In the video game, right up until the moment Sadiki took out the final terrorist, Bolt was on edge, nervous, uncertain. It taxed him. He almost lost.
Beating the video game was a challenge for him. Executing the most dominant and effortless performance in the history of the Olympic Games was not.
Ethan Siegel, a theoretical astrophysicist at Lewis & Clark College, recently charted a graph to demonstrate that, judging by the incremental progression of the 100-meter world record over the past hundred years, Bolt appears to be operating at a level approximately thirty years beyond that of the expected capabilities of modern man. Mathematically, Bolt belonged not in the 2008 Olympics but the 2040 Olympics. Michael Johnson, the hero of the 1996 Olympic summer games, has made the same point in a different way: A runner capable of beating Bolt, he says, “hasn’t been born yet.”
That 100-meter final at the Beijing Olympics still gives me goosebumps when I think about it. But all this business about no one being able to touch Bolt’s pace for another 30 years, that’s just bunk. The mark is out there. People are going to go for it. My prediction: Bolt will continue to break his own mark but someone else will approach or equal Bolt’s current record in fewer than five years, if not three.