"The Bolt Effect" - A Must Read Blog
There was exactly one tall, lanky and charismatic reason for the spike in attendance, and it wasn't the perfect weather, the great competition in the high school and college races, or even the excitement of the USA vs. The World Relays. That reason was Usain Bolt.
Anything that makes people excited about track and field in general is good for USA Track & Field and our athletes.
There is no event in the world like the Penn Relays, and no professional relay event quite like USA vs. The World. Nowhere outside of his native Jamaica could he run in front of so many of his countrymen -- so much so that after his victorious effort in the 4x100m relay, Bolt referred to the Franklin Field fans as a "hometown crowd".
Our athletes and fans all understand that Usain Bolt is the best thing to happen to track and field in years, and a great thing to happen to USA Track & Field.
What we are witnessing in Usain Bolt is a transformational athlete reaching his peak. As he engages those long levers in his legs, he accelerates down the track in a manner that always produces a "wow." Talk about a "moment!" If he were a Hollywood actor searching for a stage name, he could not have selected a more appropriate surname. He has an elfin, mischievous and innocent quality to him that is so refreshing in this age of boorish and egotistical stars. He hears a few bars of music and cannot resist busting a move or two. He exudes a joie de vivre that engages young and old in these difficult and complicated times. The kid is the whole package! He makes American sprinting, and all of track and field, more exciting.
Our athletes themselves get this. They were asked incessantly by the press whether they resent Bolt getting all the attention, and I understand that their reaction was often one of puzzlement. What are you talking about, they seemed to say, he is GREAT for us! As Lashinda Demus put it: "Any one person that can get attention for the sport as a whole is good for all of us ... It's a team, a worldly team with this sport."
Bolt may be the main attraction, but we are still the show.
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