Belfast Telegraph

No doubt about it, Usain Bolt is just out of this world after World Athletics Championships heroics

By Billy Weir

It has all been a bit Back to the Future at the World Athletics Championships this week with lots of stellar performances but with the strange feeling that you've seen this all before.

I have yet to spot a DeLorean or a flux capacitor being jiggled into action but you can't help thinking that just around the bend in Beijing there's a squeaky youth in a bodywarmer and a mad doctor wondering how the hell they're going to get the 1.21 gigawatts to fly home.

It seems that the real legacy of the London Olympics is that three years on the same big names who won things there are now winning things in China, starting off with Mo Farah, who we've hardly heard anything about lately.

"They've gone hard, they've gone very hard, but it's not hard enough," yelped Steve Cram as Farah was chased down the back straight in the 10,000m as if he'd just nicked some angry Iranian's plutonium.

"Because they're not good enough, they're not fast enough, Mo Farah is best, Mo Farah is the world champion," hinted Cram. Enough Steve, enough.

That happened on Saturday but still opened proceedings on Sunday where Gabby Logan was not in the Bird's Nest Stadium but had come dressed as Big Bird from Sesame Street in a striking yellow number with the skyline behind her dominated by an image of the evil red empire.

Yes, we were in Salford, the home now of BBC Sport and rest assured, licence fee payers, your money has not been wasted on trips to Beijing, no, it has been wasted on a fancy new studio with panoramic views of Old Trafford and its environs.

"The newspapers are just full of Mo Farah, which is great for athletics," said Gabby. They weren't saying that a few months back, then again he hadn't just won a gold medal then, but with eyebrows now as unraised as they could be, it was time to talk about the battle of good versus evil.

Or at least we tried to as in the middle of asking guests Michael Johnson and Daley Thompson about the upcoming 100m clash between Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin, Gabby went into meltdown and took a mad coughing fit.

She recovered in time to hand us over to Steve Backley, one time nearly as good a javelin hurler as a big Czech lad, and the latest in a long line of former athletes who the Beeb now use as commentators. Long gone are the days of David Coleman and Ron Pickering.

A battle of good versus good had developed through the wee small hours as Jessica Ennis-Hill took on Katarina Johnson-Thompson in the hyphentathlon, sorry, heptathlon and the long jump was in full swing, or leap.

"It's enormous, it's a huge jump, that is incredible," screamed Backley as KJT performed her third and final attempt to post a distance.

"Wait a second, there's drama here," he said.

"What you need to do is not panic," Denise Lewis assured us. "And please let it be a white flag," quickly added a panicking Denise as appropriately enough in their surroundings a red flag was flying high and that was that, KJT was on her bike.

"Devastating news to wake up to," said a clearly devastated Gabby. It's hardly devastating, someone getting sent home because they had misbehaved in a sandpit.

"She's as happy as Larry and then they're looking at the plasticine," said Daley, but no matter how hard they looked it didn't morph into a white flag, and then back came Gabby's mad cough and now she was waving frantically at him to keep talking, which isn't a problem.

The next words she uttered were Radzi Chinyanganya and I thought she had sneezed but then a wee skinny lad with mad hair turned up and it turns out he is a Blue Peter presenter, but Peter Purves he is not.

Finally the 100m semi-finals arrived and Bolt nearly upset the world order by almost falling while the evil Gatlin laughed in the faces of babies to win his race with ease.

"Well, we knew it was going to be exciting, thrilling and dramatic but those semi-finals really left the heart in the mouth," gasped Gabby but at least we now knew why she was choking.

Back came Jess, the athlete not a Blue Peter pet, to clinch gold and Cram displayed the calm, unbiased ways we have come to expect of the BBC.

"Back on top of the world, absolutely brilliant, storybook athletics," he said, and indeed it is as the girl who is quite good at seven events but not good enough to compete at a proper one beat all the others who aren't quite as good at seven events.

What we needed was a big Jamaican and we got one - O'Dayne Richards in the shot putt, who, Backley told us, is known as Big Fred because "he looks like Fred Flintstone" but he could only finish third, it was the best he could yabba dabba doo…

And then finally, it was the final we had all waited for, and Big Fred's big pal against the man who lives in an underground lair.

"In some quarters it has been billed as good versus evil, I'm not sure we can quite go that far," began Cram, going that far.

"Caribbean cool versus American aggression, play your colour, yellow or red," he said as things took an unexpected Cheggars Plays Pop twist.

And then we had a stunning shot of the moon.

"There were times when he looked like he was from space, that he was a bit different, but he has looked very human in recent times," added Cram about Bolt before Gatlin, who probably hurts puppies, came into view.

"The ghost of his past has been following him like a dark shadow, he says he doesn't believe in ghosts and doesn't see the shadows but others do," he said, and you wondered why Gatlin doesn't speak to the Beeb.

And then they were off.

"Usain Bolt, it's very tight but I think he's done it, he's saved his title, he's saved his reputation, he may even have saved his sport, a super hero," screamed Cram.

"I can't say I'm sorry that Gatlin got beat, it was the right result, sensational," concluded an unbiased Cram and so say all of us, especially as when he crossed the line he generated enough gigawatts to send two people home happy to Salford.

Belfast Telegraph


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