Lightning-fast Bolt dazzles fans
The 23-year-old world-record holder in the 100- and 200-meter runs was clocked in at an incredible 8.79 seconds for his leg of the relay.
The quartet of Mario Forsythe, Yohan Blake, Marvin Anderson and Bolt finished in 37.90 seconds for Jamaica, setting a competition record. Bolt took a perfect handoff from Anderson and blazed through the final 100 meters to a raucous ovation.
“I told the guys to make sure I didn’t have to work, because I really didn’t want to do much,” Bolt said with a laugh. “I got the baton pretty much in front, so I wasn’t really worried about anything else.”
Bolt’s appearance at the Penn Relays was responsible for the highest single-day attendance (54,310) in the event’s 116-year history. A total of 117,346 fans watched the three days, also a record.
Bolt, an international track and field sensation, was the biggest draw from the moment his participation was announced. The excitement began to swell as soon as he appeared on the field, about an hour before his race.
“It was so loud, I thought, ‘Is the president here?’” said Miki Barber of the U.S. team, who was warming up for her race at the time. By the time Bolt and his team took the track, the celebration had gone full-blown, with U.S. and Jamaica fans chanting for the respective countries so loudly that announcers asked for quiet to start the race.
When it began, Jamaica and the U.S. remained close through the first three legs. American Shawn Crawford later said that while his team struggled with bad handoffs, the Jamaicans played flawlessly, leading to Bolt’s impressive sprint.
“If I’m in front of Usain Bolt, I don’t think he’s going to catch me, to be honest,” said Williams, who ran the final leg for USA Blue. “I ran a real good fourth leg, but I couldn’t pass him up. I don’t care if it’s Usain Bolt or not, I’m trying to win. When they’re cheering for Usain Bolt, I feel like they’re cheering for me. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to pass him up, but I was trying. I think we really can beat these guys.”
Bolt’s victory lap was met with a deafening roar, and he stopped twice to make a lightning bolt motion in front of screaming Jamaican fans. He also mingled before leaving the grounds, signing autographs and posing for pictures.
“Over the past two years I’ve been surprised by the amount of people that know me and the welcome I get when I go to track meets or functions,” Bolt said. “I’m still trying to get used to it and I’m enjoying it.”