Hardly time to pause as track and field rules
When on the Monday, meant to be a breather, the Caribbean storm is unrelenting, this one fronted by younger faces and older names, Felix Sanchez running 47.63 seconds, exactly as he did eight years before, in Athens, to win back the 400m hurdles, before a teenager from Grenada, named Kirani James, becomes the first non-American to run sub-44 over 400m flat, and with the same humility he showed when swapping his bib with last-placed Oscar Pistorious, in his semi-final, himself seems suspended in perpetual wonder.
When what happens on the Tuesday night, not long after Derval O’Rourke bids farewell to her Olympic dream, after Sally Pearson later illustrates just why, winning Australia’s only track and field gold, clearing 10 hurdles and 100m in a mere 12.35 seconds, ends up feeling less like the blue riband, more like the black armband, it’s because the man who wins the 1,500m, an Algerian named Taoufik Makhloufi, had already fooled us over 800m, pulling up injured, was now sprinting away with disbelieving ease.
Then when it seemed American athletics was on its knees, it too had fooled us, rising up like the Olympic flame itself on the Wednesday night, truly golden moments for Aries Merritt in the 110m hurdles and Allyson Felix in the 200m and Brittney Reese in the long jump, a silver lining for Dawn Harper in the 400m hurdles, while Ashton Eaton is building an unassailable lead in the decathlon.
So when the world record we so craved finally caved, on the Thursday night, when one man runs two laps in 90 seconds, the Masaai warrior better known as David Lekuta Rudisha, the good vibration inside the Olympic Stadium is felt all the way to Kenya’s Great Rift Valley, where the Irish brother who coaches him is watching on a flickering television, inside his small concrete house, so it doesn’t matter what follows, not even the 19.32 seconds it takes Bolt to complete a first ever Olympic sprint double-double, because London’s treasure house of sporting superlatives is already full.
So when two more world records go, in the sprint relays, when on Friday night the American women annihilate an East German time that had stood for 27 years, and on Saturday, the Jamaican men, anchored by Bolt, run the first ever sub-37 second lap of a running track, crushing everyone else, like a dinosaur walking on eggs, after Farah completes his distance double with slow-motion tactics over 5,000m, and after Rob Heffernan completes 50km of race walking without an Irish medal, without being an Olympic champion, but still a champion of the Olympics, this is why track and field will and always will define the Olympics.