Bolt and Farah impossible acts to follow
The list of top-level sports competitors I would pay to watch live is pretty small, and getting smaller now Usain Bolt and Mo Farah are calling time on their careers.
Ok, so Farah is just retiring from the track for now, but Bolt’s hanging up his spikes for good. His departure will leave a huge hole in athletics. There are very few sportsmen or women who can really grab an audience’s attention and Bolt has stood head and shoulders above everyone over the last decade.
Knowing it was to be the sprint legend’s swansong was the overwhelming reason I’d entered the ballot for World Athletics Championships tickets way back in the summer of last year. Then, I hedged my bets and put in for both 100m heats/finals and 200m. But I didn’t realise until much later that Bolt wouldn’t run the 200m.
So, to get tickets for the opening night’s action at the London Stadium proved the perfect outcome. I’d initially been frustrated to miss out on 100m finals night, but as it turned out in the heats, I witnessed Bolt’s last-ever 100m victory, as he came second in the semi’s and took bronze in the final the following night. Something to stereotypically tell some grandchildren one day perhaps.
Capping the night off with Farah acting as the puppetmaster and whipping up the home crowd as he raced to 10k gold was a great bonus. As the Brit-favourite, Farah has no equal. He is arguably the ‘domestic Bolt’.
But what struck me most about the occasion was the electric atmosphere inside the stadium whenever Bolt was even mentioned. It was captivating. His face merely appeared on the TV screens as he wandered around the warm-up area outside the stadium. People got visibly and audibly excited.
His name was announced and minor (some mass) hysteria followed. I’d wager it’ll be a very long time before any athlete comes close to generating the same sort of excitement that came from watching Usain Bolt.