He didnt cross the line in front and way ahwad of everybody else this time.
In this race he looked more human, more like the rest of the pack. He struggled throughout and you could see the agony on his face and feel the pain in his spirit as he crossed the finish line. This is not how he finishes his races, when he runs he has joy in him, you didnt see joy in this race you saw struggle and pain.
I have been watching birds in the wind. How they fly with the wind, they never struggle, they allow the wind to carry them along, with no resistance you see them allowing themselves to be swept along, falling easily into being carried by the wind. At points when the wind fades a little, they stretch their wings and fly for a little, but just a little because as soon as the wind picks up again they release their struggle and are again carried along. Clearly, their purpose is aligned with the wind.
As I saw Bolt in his last race I thought of the birds that I have been observing and I said to myself, he had to retire at this point because he was no longer being carried by the wind. His body was not allowing him to glide through the run the way we are use to seeing him get up out of the blocks and run. Bolt’s power on the track is the joy in his run. The way he uncomfortably gets up out of the block and gets his body to the point where it can run. He use to be able to run anybody down and past them because he was being carried by the wind. In this race he struggled, he couldnt run down his competitors the way he use to.
So he finished third and we didnt know what to do. Somehow third doesnt suit him. It really doesnt, he should be in first place. Somehow Bolt’s first meant more to us than we had imagined because when he defied gravity, when he defied the mechanics of his body, when he defied the limits of humanity and ran at inhumane speeds we were convinced of our own super power. He reminded us that we were not ordinary, but more than anything else he reminded everyone that we were not ordinary. Bolt was our message to the world, our announcement of arrival, so when we walked into a room, his prowess and progress explained who you would get, what and who the Jamaican was about.
Our hero stumbled tonight, he met his kryptonite, his body. We cant always stay on top, we stumble and fall sometimes, in the final analysis we can dance with the wind for only so long. We must know when to bow out gracefully. When to leave the stage and exit. Bolt saw it coming. He is leaving at the right time.
I was humbled by his spirit in this last race. There was no defeat in him, just an awareness that he hadnt won, but he was still celebrating, still aware of his hold on the crowd. Still aware that when he ran he ran with our love and our pride. I love Usain Bolt. I am sure that yet again he will allow the wind to carry him on his next assignment and there again he will defy laws of human possibility and through him we will learn more things about us.