Usain Bolt may have broken the world record in the 100m, but his grandstanding left a sour taste, says Kriss Akabusi
As the world went crazy at the sight of Usain Bolt winning the 100 metres final on Saturday, I stared at my television with annoyance. Don't get me wrong, what Bolt did was phenomenal, but it was too much showman and not enough sportsman, which after all, is what being an Olympian is all about.
Competing at this level is about being as magnanimous in victory as you are in defeat. The guys you are racing against must know you are doing your very best and it is up to you as a competitor to give it your all and leave a legacy for others to follow. Bolt did not do that because he did not run as fast as he could. Had he gone flat out, the guy could have done 9.50sec as opposed to 9.69, his eventual time. That may not sound much but believe me, it's a massive difference.
It's likely Bolt will eventually run 9.50, probably at one of the post-Olympic meets, but he did not do it at an Olympics and that is where it really counts. And there is no guarantee Bolt will get another chance to break the record at an Olympics; as the injury to Liu Xiang has shown us, your Olympic dream can be snuffed out in a heartbeat. No, this was Bolt's big chance and he did not fully grasp it. He could have been remembered as the man who ran 9.50 in an Olympic 100m final but instead he'll be remembered as the man who slapped his chest as he crossed the line and that is not in any way as powerful a legacy.
In that respect every British medal winner in China deserves to take a bow right now. They have given everything in the pursuit of success and, while their achievements are less flashy than Bolt's, their impact is just as significant. Kids back home will have seen the guts and determination of Bradley Wiggins, Becky Adlington, Ben Ainslie and the rest and feel truly inspired. I certainly did after seeing Kip Keino perform at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico. He came into those Games with severe abdominal pains but pushed through and won gold in the 1500m. I was on holiday in Yorkshire at the time and remember running round a bandstand near where we were staying afterwards pretending to be Kip. He had become an instant hero to me - partly because he was black and, apart from me, there weren't many black people in Yorkshire at that time but mainly because he had given everything he had to win a gold medal and that, as far as I am concerned, is the true definition of a hero.
British heroes have definitely emerged from these Games. I think someone else who deserves a big pat on the back is Louis Smith, who won our bronze on the pommel horse, our first Olympic gymnastics medal in 80 years. I met Louis at a charity dinner in Peterborough four months ago where he was introduced to me and a group of other sportsmen as a local youngster who was going to Beijing, where he hoped to quite well.
Well, he has certainly done that. He left Peterborough as plain Mr Smith and will return as an Olympic medallist. I am delighted for him. Louis is a humble, young guy who worked hard for his bronze and I hope he is prepared for the way his life is now going to change.
It is a shame we have not had a similar amount of success on the track. Kelly Sotherton was someone I thought would do well but that's sport; it can be cruel sometimes. Hopefully Christine Ohuruogu will get a medal of some sort, hopefully gold, as should Phillips Idowu. He's come into these Olympics as world No1, is full of confidence and has performed well. This is his moment to show everyone just how good he is. I am sure he can.
But whatever happens, this has been a great Olympics for Britain. We have won golds in a range of disciplines and are close to the 41-medals target set before the team flew out to China. More importantly, we have seen the development of a group of hungry, talented young athletes who could really shine in London in 2012. When we were awarded the Games, people started panicking because they thought we wouldn't have any home-grown athletes who could do well in our own back yard. But Beijing has shown us that a new, talented, generation was in the system all along and in four years' time could be real world-beaters. For that the national lottery and big business also deserve a lot of credit for helping fund British sport; it was clearly money well spent.
Alongside the likes of Smith and Adlington, another group of top-class young British athletes will no doubt emerge from these Olympics. They will be the ones inspired to compete by what they saw on television, specifically that being a true Olympian is about pushing yourself to your limits and stepping into the arena with passion and pride in order to raise the bar of performance.
There is also scope for some chest-slapping but, if you want to be a genuine history-maker, do it after and not during the race.
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