Usain Bolt's 9.58s 100m world record: Michael Johnson's iconic reaction

Usain Bolt's 9.58s 100m world record: Michael Johnson's iconic reaction

As another Diamond League campaign hurtles toward us next month, the 2022 Track and Field season will be highlighted by the IAAF World Athletics Championship in Eugene, Oregon in mid-July.

The first global meet for athletes since the pandemic hit – aside from Tokyo 2020 last summer – not only has the global landscape since Doha 2019 changed, of course, so too athletics has a very different look in terms of personnel.

Time for some more nostalgia, we think.

The sport’s Golden Goose for some time now, the Blue Riband Men’s 100m may have dipped in terms of quality of late, but between 2008 and 2016, one Usain Bolt was tearing up all scripts and record books going.

Winning eight Olympic gold medals and claiming double Olympic crowns over three consecutive Summer Games, the Jamaican reigned as 100m and 200m champion in Beijing, London and Rio, also breaking his own world records on more than one occasion.

In the 100m, Bolt first broke compatriot Asafa Powell’s standard in May 2008, then clocking 9.72s in New York City. Three months later, Bolt again broke the record in the Olympic final in China, shaving another three-one-hundredths off his own time of 9.69s.

With Bolt visibly still holding back in the dash for the tape on that night, experts predicted the remarkable split would not last for long, however, it stood for a full year.

Cue Berlin 2009; for many, Bolt’s most stunning performance of his glittering career. Certainly, Michael Johnson would agree so.

As Powell and Tyson Gay lined up in the final as his main rivals, not for the first time Bolt blew the competition away – this time with all guns blazing to the line – as the clock stopped at an astonishing 9.58 seconds.

Watching on from the BBC studio in a stunned Birds Nest alongside Hazel Irvine, Denise Lewis and Colin Jackson, Johnson, a man no stranger to obliterating records was left speechless in his chair by the showing.

As the camera zoomed in on the double-Olympic champion from Atlanta ’96 in a replay after the race, the Texan, who stamped his own place in athletics history in front of a home crowd 26 years ago, was literally left dumbfounded by what he had witnessed.

It was television gold.

Johnson’s reaction was no exaggeration. Indeed, it is a record that still stands today and only Gay and a third Jamaican sprinter in Yohan Blake have come close to challenging his time, with both men recording 9.69s in 2009 and 2012 respectively.

In contrast, current Olympic champion Marcell Jacobs won gold in Tokyo with 9.80.

To pull another reaction of the same kind from his fellow Lone Star State native in Johnson, the El Paso-born Italian will have to go some. And then some more.

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