Commentary

Can't anybody run with me?

The toughest thing for Usain Bolt these days is staying ahead of expectations

Updated: August 12, 2009, 10:08 AM ET
By Ryan McGee | ESPN The Magazine
ReutersUsain Bolt, hard at work on the track in Jamaica.

This article appears in the August 10 issue of ESPN The Magazine.

Wherever Usain Bolt goes, an army follows in his wake, hoping to witness the latest miracle from the man who draped Beijing in green, black and gold. The army reflects the light from his smile and basks in the vanishing traces of his draft. Its members measure his every stride, comparing it with their own. It is all almost too beautiful, too perfect, to be real.

And yet at this moment, followers are nowhere to be found. No fans, cameras or autograph seekers, not here, in the gravel parking lot behind Kingston's yellowing Jamaica National Stadium. On this lung-heavy June evening, the Fastest Man in the World is moving at zero feet per second. In less than 90 minutes he'll run a 100-meter heat, the first step toward defending his crown at the national track and field championships. In two days he'll try to add another 200 title. But now Bolt hangs the most explosive legs in the history of recorded athletics out the window of his white BMW X5, which, simply because it belongs to him, is the most recognizable vehicle on the island. Two Honda Civics are parked alongside, trunks open and converted into impromptu lounge chairs for his masseur and training partners. Bolt sips Gatorade and bobs his head, carelessly lost in the slow groove of LL Cool J's "I Need Love."

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Ryan McGee | email

ESPN The Magazine, NASCAR