Some more to chew on here:
HAMPERED BY injuries in the twilight of his junior days, Usain Bolt made an unacceptable, according to so-called track and field ‘experts’, start to what turned out to be a dream senior career.
Bolt’s biggest junior achievements came in 2002, when he won four CARIFTA Games gold and the World Junior 200m title, and 2003 when he won the Pan Am Junior Championships title (20.13 World Youth Record) and World Youth gold and 2004 when he became the first junior to go sub-20 (19.93 at CARIFTA).
However, despite winning the National Trials 200m in 2005 (20.27), along with the CAC Senior Championships (20.03), he failed at the Olympic and World Championships. Bolt had missed the Olympic Trials with an injury, which kept him out of the World Junior Championships in Italy in 2004.
At Athens, Bolt, under the guidance of former coach Fitz Coleman, ran 21.05 and failed to get past the first round, while in 2005 at the World Championships, he finished eighth in the final in 26.27 after suffering an injury.
However, according to coach Glen Mills, who identified Bolt’s early problems in Part One which was published yesterday, the sprinter turned the corner in 2006.
Bolt had also withdrawn from the Jamaica’s Commonwealth Games team in 2006 because of a muscle strain, but Mills said the focus was on the Olympics and the World Championships.
In preparing for the challenges ahead, Mills said after assessing Bolt’s 200m races, he was not ‘satisfied with the job he was doing around the turn’.
He was making technical and biomechanical mistakes which forced Mills to devote most of the season to making corrections.
“We did a good job and his turn running is a major part of his performance now,” added Mills, who rates him as one of the best ever curve runners.
“We also decided to work on his biomechanical ability to sprint, as in the past, he was far striding … although pretty quick, he said. Bolt adapted easily as he “gets a good mental idea of what you teaching him,” said Mills. " … and so, his sprinting ability improved significantly”.
It was behind this, that Mills said he knew Bolt would be a good 100m sprinter, but he was not ready to rush him into the event because of his injury history.
“His top-end speed, which I saw from day one, is tremendous. He is the kind of runner who can close a gap and change gear significantly” said Mills, who said the better 100m sprinters are ones with good top-end speed, putting Bolt in the class of Great Britain’s Linford Christie, American Carl Lewis and Canadian Donovan Bailey, all Olympic 100m gold medalists.
Bolt was ready by age 19.
“Despite the fact that he was still young, we felt he had, over the three years of development, reached the stage where he was ready to take on the world, and in a serious way,” Mills explained.
“World Championships 2007 was the sort of beginning. His preparation for that was pretty good and history showed he was the silver medallist (in the 200).”
With the World Championships out of the way, an event Mills said if it wasn’t for an injury Bolt suffered shortly before the Osaka event, he probably could have won or at least run Tyson Gay closer, it was down to more assessment as Beijing was the next target.
They moved into the Olympic year, Mills said, with supreme confidence.
“We felt that we could turn things around significantly in the Olympic year and so we started the year with a great intensity working on his strength.”
Mills, who praised Mickey Haughton-James for giving the use of his Spartan Gym free of cost, commended Bolt, who had given his full cooperation for the first time.
He also said the gym, which has some of the “best equipment in the island”, was used to “great advantage in developing his overall physical”.
“And once we saw the significant strength improvement that we accomplished in the off-season, we knew we were looking forward to a great, great season.”
was not surprised
So, Mills said he was not surprised when Bolt, running without any strong competition, registered 9.76 at the Jamaica International in May.
Mills wanted to test Bolt against stronger competition and went to challenge Gay in New York later that month and the result was a world record 9.72.
“From then, we knew we were on target. It was just a matter of ensuring that we would get him to peak again in August at the Olympics,” Mills said.
Bolt did peak and Mills described it as the “greatest satisfaction” because, after some impressive early season performances, he was able to get him peak at the right time.
“We felt that the 100m would put him in good stead for his 200m competition,” added Mills, who said Bolt’s preparation races in Europe were also spot on.
In his first 200m after trials, in London, Bolt ran 19.67, but Mills, who was ill and not present at the meet, found several errors in the race.
"His start was poor, he ran a poor turn by his standard, he came off the turn unbalanced and because he did not relax at any time in the race, he was in a hurry, his strides and everything were out of timing.
“When I assessed the race, I said to myself, if he is capable of running that time even without competition, then given the right conditions, he is going to run a tremendous 200m.”
Mills and the fast-learning Bolt went about correcting the problems within days and Bolt shocked everyone with a time trial run at the Olympic camp in Tianjin.
Mills said so impressive was the time, they had to check if he had started at the right position.
“So we went into the Olympics pretty confident that we would take both races,” continued Mills, who said they always had great respect for Asafa Powell.
Mills said he was not surprised when Bolt broke the 100m record and was only surprised by the 200m record because he did not know his superstar could overcome the hype so quickly.
Now, moving forward, Mills said he expects Bolt, who doesn’t have the best of starts, to improve on that significantly come next season.
“Hopefully, next season we will get it down, or the next … but his start is going to get significantly better and I think it’s going to set him up for super time that will shock the world.”
So a bit more involved here than yams and grass tracks.