By: Vicki Hall
RIO DE JANEIRO — Usain Bolt is the fastest man alive and the only man ever to win three Olympic gold medals in the 100 metres.
But the Jamaican superstar felt a tad, um, sluggish in the final Sunday at Olympic stadium despite breezing to victory in 9.81 seconds over American Justin Gatlin (9.89) and Canadian Andre De Grasse (9.91 seconds).
Turns out even superheroes need their rest, and Bolt needs more than 80 minutes to recover from running an Olympic semifinal.
“It was very hard to run fast because the turnaround time was really, really, really short,” Bolt told a packed news conference in the wee hours of Monday morning. “It was ridiculous as far as I am concerned, because I felt so good in the semifinals.”
So for me, it was really stupid
He looked good in the semi, too, cruising over the line at 9.86 seconds with time to look around and laugh at the rest of the field.
“It was like, ‘Yo, I probably could run a fast time, but by the time you get back to the warm-up area and start warming up again, it’s time to go back out,” Bolt said. “So for me, it was really stupid.”
Stupid and, by his standards, more of a stroll.
“That is why the race is slow,” said Bolt, who owns the world record of 9.58 seconds. “There is no way you can run and go back around and run fast times again. It was hard for us.”
According to the 34-year-old Gatlin, fatigue also played a role in his race.
“I was tired going into the final, so I was just focusing on myself,” he said “It was such a quick turn around. We only had 30 minutes.”
Track athletes aren’t the only ones to complain about odd scheduling at the Rio Olympics; athletes from handball, volleyball and swimming also have spoken out about the challenges of playing early in the morning or very late at night.
“It’s a bit tough to stuff yourself with pasta and tomato sauce at half-past six in the morning,” Swedish handball player Isabelle Gullden said of preparing for a 9:30 a.m. game. “For me that was my breakfast and it was not nice, the mouth twitched a bit.”
Spanish swimmer Mireia Belmonte Garcia said she wasn’t able to go to bed until 4 a.m. after winning the women’s 200-metre butterfly last week, which made it difficult to compete early the next day. The swimming finals didn’t finish until after midnight, then athletes had to do interviews, take part in a medal ceremony and go through doping control. Swimming heats started at 1 p.m. the next day.
“It’s strange because always we swim at 4, 5 in the afternoon. And now we have to swim at 10, 11 at night. It’s a strange life.”