“Can Manchester United score? They always score. “Name on the trophy. “… and Solskjaer has won it. “Manchester United have reached the promised land. All iconic lines from ITV’s Clive Tyldesley’s commentary of Manchester United’s 1999 Uefa Champions League comeback win over Bayern Munich in Barcelona that still gives shivers 21 years on, but there is another that is often forgotten. “Forever and a day, United fans will ask ‘Where did you watch the 1999 European Cup Final?’ ... and 50,000 or so will be able to reply ‘I was there’.” Usain Bolt, arguably the most famous Manchester United fan in the world but most certainly the fastest, was not among them. The Jamaican sprinter was just 12 years old at the time and his athletics career was limited to being the fastest 100m runner in his school, Waldensia Primary. Bolt also admits that it was not the treble that got him interested in Manchester United, it was Ruud van Nistelrooy a couple of seasons later, but Bolt would provide a similarly unforgettable sporting experience on the night of August 16, 2008 in the final of the men’s 100 metres in Beijing. Bolt’s crown up for grabs as Lyles and Coleman head up Tokyo 2020’s new class For those of us lucky to be in the Bird’s Nest that night, to paraphrase Tyldesley, some 90,000 of us can say “I was there”. As much as 2008 is regarded as China’s “coming out party to the world” it is remembered more for the fastest man in the world announcing himself. By the time the final came, we all knew of the dancing and the diet, the McNuggets and Trelawny yams that fuelled this, but in the 2008 100m, the Olympics’ blue riband event, Bolt took the biscuit – and in less time than it would take to eat one. Bracket me with Ali and Pele: Usain Bolt on brink of ‘triple-triple’ after superb 200m win Tyldeseley’s commentary is remembered for the pauses, some five or six seconds at a time, there was no such luxury once Bolt set off from the starting block in Beijing. Between then and the finish there was just 9.68 seconds – a new world record – and it came after a slow start and while celebrating with the crowd for the last 20 metres. That “showboating” angered some, though not one of them appeared to be in the crowd on that balmy August night as they looked around in disbelief at what they had just witnessed. That included his competitors. “I could see him slowing down ahead as I was still pumping away,” silver medallist Richard Thompson said afterwards. “We've never seen anything like that before,” Olympic great Michael Johnson said, but former British sprinter Kriss Akabussi was one who was not impressed. “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” he wrote in The Guardian . #OnThisDay in 2012, @usainbolt set a new Olympic 100m record, and we will NEVER get bored of re-watching it ⚡ pic.twitter.com/s24P98spI5 — Olympics (@Olympics) August 5, 2020 “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,” Akabussi continued, making a point that has not stood the test of time. The Jamaican’s coach said Bolt could have run 9.52 seconds. A Norwegian physicist speculated that Bolt could have run as fast as 9.55 seconds without showboating. Bolt, who knew he was about to make history as the first Jamaican to win 100m gold when he started celebrating mid-race, cared not. “I wasn't interested in the world record. I didn't even know I had it until after the victory lap. This medal means a lot to my country, and to me.” Happy Independence Day Jamaica #Jamaica58 ⚡️ pic.twitter.com/sPB6YaaCec — Usain St. Leo Bolt (@usainbolt) August 6, 2020 Now, 12 years on and with Bolt long retired (and having threatened to play for Manchester United), Jamaican sprinters are the most dominant on the planet and Bolt’s legacy is secure. Arguably he has carried the Olympics more than any one else in that time. “It was expected,” said the Jamaican team doctor, Herb Elliott after the Beijing win, but the rest of the world, those who tune in once every four years did not know. “I don't know how fast he can go; his coach doesn't know how fast he can go; he doesn't know how fast he can go.” We would find out a year later, when he ran 9.58 in Berlin on the anniversary of his Beijing gold. He would win 100m and 200m gold at London in 2012, becoming the first athlete to retain them, amid more accusations of showboating, despite setting an Olympic record in the 100m. At Rio 2016, Bolt would do it all again, plus the 4x100m to complete the “triple-triple”. Real-time gif of Usain Bolt racing against every men's 100m gold medalist since 1896 #dataisbeautiful : u/bartfehr pic.twitter.com/rfmlaCTSWQ — Reddit (@reddit) August 17, 2016 Elliot told the press that Bolt had been tested half-a-dozen times at Beijing 2008, and he was tested many more times since. Not once has he fallen foul, only being implicated by association and losing his Beijing 2008 4x100m relay gold after teammate Nesta Carter came up positive in a retest. As the viral image with Bolt surrounded by crossed out names shows, of the fastest 100m times ever, Bolt is the only one to have never tested positive. “Rules are rules,” Bolt said as he handed his medal back, but the fastest human ever recorded rewrote the rules. The greatest showman at the greatest show on earth won’t be there to compete in Tokyo next year, if and when the Games happen, and the golden aura of the Olympics will be a few nuggets lighter.