Usain has Singapore sprinters in awe

TIMOTHEE YAP, 22

In the 100m heats of the 2016 Rio Olympics, he ran just one lane away from his idol Bolt

"I actually met him coincidentally in the Village, I was just going back to my room and he was going out for some Puma promotional event. It was quite crazy, I was definitely star-struck but I did get a picture with him.

When my team manager told me that I was racing alongside him, I was in disbelief. The night before at a Team Singapore get-together event, I actually joked that I was going to beat Bolt.

I was only one lane away from him, and the first 10 or 20m, I felt like I was actually ahead, so in my head I was thinking, Oh my God I'm in front of Bolt. But then he just turned on his burners and left me way behind.

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His personality on the track is as big off it and I think that's what contributes to his popularity. Athletics before he came was seen as boring, like just someone timing another guy running, but Bolt made it a show.

No matter what country you are from, at the Games you would definitely support Bolt."


CALVIN KANG, 27

Raced with Bolt in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in Heat 3 of the 4x100m

"In 2014, he was the main attraction that people went to see. He showed people a new way to run.

His personality also of course was a huge thing. I think that he really showcased athletics as much more lively than what people thought, so in that way he really revolutionised the sport."


C. KUNALAN, 74

Held the 100m national record, 10.38sec at 1968 Mexico City Olympics, for 33 years

"Running below 10sec was something very special when I was competing. I might have said that a 9.58sec is impossible because back then, there were so many people in the world training so hard, coming to Olympics and they're doing around 9.9. We thought it was the human limit.

Bolt is something very special. There are so many other sprinters from America and Jamaica who have good running backgrounds. But, when they run against him, he just leaves them behind and makes them look like they never trained, but they are so well trained. They could have swept the titles 10 years ago, but there was Usain Bolt in the way.

When you see a race with the other big names, you don't notice anything special. But, when you see Bolt in slow motion, then you begin to appreciate his technique, his stride lengths, the body postures, the heel lift, the thigh lift."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 05, 2017, with the headline 'Usain has Singapore sprinters in awe'. Print Edition | Subscribe