- The Washington Times - Monday, August 17, 2009

BERLIN | Usain Bolt crossed the finish line, saw his record-setting time on the clock and spread his arms as if he were soaring like a bird.

About all this guy can’t do is fly. And by saving his celebration until after the finish line this time, he showed how fast a man can go on two feet.

The Jamaican shattered the world record again Sunday, running 100 meters in 9.58 seconds at the world championships to turn his much-anticipated race against Tyson Gay into a one-man show.

That was 0.11 seconds faster than the mark he set last year at the Beijing Olympics - the biggest improvement in the 100-meter record since electronic timing began in 1968.

Gay, his closest rival, broke the American mark with his 9.71 performance and still looked like he was jogging - finishing a few big strides behind Bolt in second place.

Bolt’s only competition these days is the clock.

And when he’s really trying - not hot-dogging it over the line the way he did in China - even time itself doesn’t stand a chance.

“I don’t run for world records,” said Bolt, who crossed the line with a slight breeze at his back.

Yet those records always seem to find him. He thinks he can go even lower.

“I know I said 9.4,” Bolt said, grinning. “You never know. I’ll just keep on working.”

Last summer at Beijing, Bolt shut his race down early, waving his arms and celebrating about 10 meters before he got to the line. Some, such as Jacques Rogge of the International Olympic Committee, viewed it as a sign of bad sportsmanship. Most saw it as a sigh of relief for a sport that needed some good news after years of doping and scandal.

Bolt ran his latest unforgettable race at Olympic Stadium in Berlin, the history-filled home of the 1936 Olympics where Jesse Owens became the world’s biggest track star. Bolt lives in Owens’ stratosphere now, having set the 100 world record three times and owning the 200-meter record thanks to the 19.30 he ran in Beijing.

Now he has the world championship, last won by Gay in 2007.

A Stanford professor estimated he could’ve gone 9.55 if he had run through the line in Beijing. Turns out he was close.

Before climbing into the blocks, Bolt gave spectators a quick wave and did his trademark bow-and-arrow pose. That drew big applause.

Then the real show started.

Unlike the Olympics, when he skidded from the blocks, Bolt burst out this time in his yam-colored Pumas, opening a sizable lead on the field after 20 meters.

From there, it could have been a stroll in the park. But there was no letting up this time. Before crossing the line, he glanced to his right to check on Gay once - not in the picture - and then back at the clock. His face lit up as he spotted “9.58” appear on the screen next to the track.

The party was on. He grabbed a flag and did a victory lap with countryman Asafa Powell, who finished with the bronze (9.84).

“I’ve been telling you someone could run 9.5,” Gay said. “I’m happy he did it; it showed a human can take it to another level.”

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