Nov 24, 2013

Book: Usain Bolt - Faster Than Lightning

Author: Usain Bolt

'I was put on this earth to run' is how Usain starts saying about himself in his autobiography. Out of all the autobiographies I've read so far, if there is one book that has made me feel the craziness of the writer so passionately, it is the one from the Jamaican sprinter. The legend, as he likes himself to be called and actually is, has put in his life moments very admirably and interestingly. The game he belongs to is all about fractions of seconds. A second means a lot and hundredth of a second can differentiate where an athlete stands on the podium. The way he expresses about his practice sessions to improve his timing by less than half a second, gets through the readers' imagination of the possible pain and fatigue. Of course, it's up to the readers' interest in the game that will not let them leave the book until the last page is turned. 

When I heard someone saying that the 100 m race is about the athlete's mental strength, I never cared to believe. I used to think it was more to do with the athlete's physical strength, speedy start and long steps. Now I know that the mental strength is as equally important as like any thing mentioned before. The belief that 'you can win' can create the extra energy needed to put forward the foot quickly than anyone else. He writes, my start is not one of the greatest. Well, to win a race, one has to finish it first. Quick start can go in vain, which has actually gone in vain in the cases of his opponents every time he has won a race. He says he speeds up in the middle of the race which is evident as well. I finally got my answer why he often looks back on his way to the finishing line! It's his way of ensuring his victory. As simple as that.

When in younger age every competition appears the same and you have only one job, to win. But all of a sudden when you grow up, not just in terms of age but also in terms of experience and winning records, it starts getting to you. The expectations start pinching you at the starting line. The chantings around the stadium forces you to want to win at any cost. Sometimes, it costs you your own performance, unfortunately. This is all happend to Bolt when he won dozens of titles at the junior level and later when he participated in important races for his country towards the end of his teenage. He succembed to the pressure too but the best part is he could come out of it, all this way to be the Olympic gold medalist back to back times in the sheerly competitive sport of these days. 

His father, 'Pops' as he calls, has a major impact on the way he respects everyone in his personal life. I was quite astonished to know that his father used to force him to wish everyone he meets on his way to school. Although he claims he till date does respect everyone, his passionate way of celebrating victory, his trademark feet of showing hands and fingering to the crowd, has never allowed me to recognize it so far. May be, he is really so in his personal life. 

Since my childhood, the one track and field event that amazes me everytime is the 'relay'. I remember how our coach used to train our school team and warn them on how carefully one has to exchange the batten. Same is the way it happens at the international level as well, and this is what I learnt from the book. The fear is the same, and that is about the exchange of the batten. If you drop it, you do not just lose the race but you actually put down the efforts of your teammates as well. When it is about representing your country in the Olympic final, what all matters for any great or fast runner is to mind your hand to pick the batten correctly. The Jamaican team has won the 2012 Olympics with a world record. I have seen the video many number of times and now I'm also aware what was going through behind the scenes, at the back of the players' minds during that memorable feet. All I can say is it's not easy and it feels great at the end. 

Bolt has tried his best to make sure he does not spell it wrongly while writing about his rivals. He showered all the respect possible on Asafa Powell, Yohan Blake etc. Justin Gatlin has to undergo the criticism in some pages, but all in all it is ok throughout the book. I hope he has the same respect in reality towards his contemporaries. 

A short read it was but a long post this is. Usain Bolt's autobiography is worth reading if you want to feel the passion someone, rather a whole country, has for the track and field events. Yes, one more thing which I cannot forget to mention, if you want to know why bolt has chosen the 100 m race to the 400 m, which has brought him near to millions of hearts across the globe, read the book. Also, if you want to know what's and how his relationship is with his long time coach, read the book. Read it and feel the passion of the world's quickest athlete towards the game he is known for!

Usain, all the very best for the future races. I hope to see you doing it again at the Rio Olympics, 2016. A hattrick worth waiting for! 

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