By this point Bold is probably not only the greatest sprinter of all time, but greatest track and field athlete of all time.
The extent to which Bolt's career has paralleled Michael Phelps' is striking. Phelps' gold medal haul started four years before Bolt's did, in Athens in '04. But both were huge stars in Beijing, where Phelps peaked in '08. Bolt peaked a year later, in '09. Neither has set a world record since 2009. But both were so great that, even though no longer in peak form, they could continue to win.
Phelps is now 31, Bolt turns 30 this week, and both men are claiming this is their last Olympiad. I wouldn't necessarily believe either of them.
The women's 1500 semifinals were also run last night. The most striking thing about those, apart from Genzebe Dibaba's final 400 of 57 seconds to win her heat, was her beauty:
It's evidently considered bad form for an announcer to comment on an athlete's looks, but if they had said what many viewers were undoubtedly thinking, one of the commentators would probably have blurted out, "Goddamn is she beautiful!"
At every Olympiad, I'm always struck by how athletes are basically just much better-looking than movie stars. Four years ago I compared the looks of Olympic swimmers to movie stars.
Here's the black version, athletes vs. movie stars:
Who's better-looking, Genzebe Dibaba --
or Angela Bassett --
or Jada Pinkett Smith:
This may not be a fair comparison, since these women are pictured at different ages, but also keep in mind that the two actresses were all dolled up, which Dibaba was in only one of her pictures.
Dibaba manages to look happy, playful, and fiery at the same time, a tough combination to beat. Bassett looks as if she's forcing a smile. And Smith looks bitter and high strung, as usual.
Who's better-looking, Usain Bolt --
-- or Denzel Washington:
Watching the Olympics is more fun than watching most movies anyway. It's the ultimate reality show: the contestants train for years, it's all unscripted, there's nationalism to spare, some people cheat, and emotions tend to run raw.
The better-looking contestants is just a side benefit.