Luke DeCock

Bom dia: The Bolt experience, in person this time — DeCock

The calm before the Usain Bolt storm at Olympic Stadium on Thursday.
The calm before the Usain Bolt storm at Olympic Stadium on Thursday. ldecock@newsobserver.com

What's amazing about Usain Bolt isn't just how fast he is, although that's pretty amazing, it's how comfortable he is being the fastest man in the world. That was so apparent Thursday night after he cruised to victory in the 200, as he bowed to the crowd, wrapped himself in a Brazilian flag and, as after the 100, took selfies with fans.

Bolt is very fast and very cool and seeing him run live is really an experience that cannot be replicated.

I missed Bolt in the 100, for various reasons, but ended up seeing it in a restaurant in Copacabana as the locals cheered, which was just as exciting. But seeing him live is different, an event, like a rock concert or a graduation ceremony. He is the fastest man alive, a worldwide icon, almost universally beloved and extraordinarily charismatic, entirely at ease with his status.

It was a good night to be at the track. Americans went 1-2 in the shot put before Ashton Eaton established himself as one of the great American athletes of all time with his second decathlon win. Improbably, in a sport measured in thousands of points, he tied the Olympic record. “One more point,” he could be seen saying.

There was also the odd spectacle of the American women's 4 x 100 relay running by itself, getting a second chance to qualify after the Brazilians interfered with a handoff this morning. Which they duly did.

But that was nothing compared to seeing Bolt run live, his personality filling up the stadium from the moment he walked on the track, his spectacular ability on display. He may have been disappointed he didn’t break the record in the 200. No one else was. Years from now, I'll be able to say I saw it one misty night in Rio.

Luke DeCock: 919-829-8947, ldecock@newsobserver.com, @LukeDeCock

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