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Usain Bolt And The Swag-Off: Reviewing The Amazing 100m Intros

Usain Bolt won the gold medal in the 100 meters in record fashion on Sunday. He also won the swag-off in the pre-race intros.

Aug 5, 2012; London, United Kingdom; Usain Bolt (JAM) celebrates after winning the men's 100m final during the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Andrew Mills/THE STAR-LEDGER via US PRESSWIRE
Aug 5, 2012; London, United Kingdom; Usain Bolt (JAM) celebrates after winning the men's 100m final during the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Mills/THE STAR-LEDGER via US PRESSWIRE

On Sunday, Usain Bolt confirmed that he is the fastest, and probably the baddest, man on the planet. His 9.63 in the 100 meters, a race that featured him finally sprinting (almost) as fast as he can, was definitely the thrill of the athletics portion of the 2012 Olympics so far, and might have gone down as the moment of these Games had NBC not held the broadcast of the final until after 11 p.m. ET.

But, in a rare moment of broadcasting savvy from NBC, the network showed the intros for the entire lineup of finalists in the 100 meters, collectively the eight fastest human beings currently breathing, in the calm before the sprint. All but one of them would go on to break 10 seconds in the race (and Asafa Powell likely only didn't because he pulled up, injured), making it one of the fastest collective races in history.

And yet, their swag-off before the race was almost better, with a bunch of guys who have celestial talents and corresponding egos preening for the cameras minutes before trying to run faster than anyone had before.


Richard Thompson, Trinidad and Tobago. We sped up Thompson's bouncing a bit, but only a bit. He legitimately did look like he was Tiggering himself out of contention by using up all of his energy. Tigger would probably be much worse at the 100-meter dash, though.


Asafa Powell, Jamaica. Powell kind of looks like he realizes midway through the camera focusing on him that he needs to do something. He goes for the Blue Steel, but just looks mad. At least he looks mad with a tuft from a lion's mane as his goatee. Also, Zoolander was released in 2001.


Tyson Gay, United States. "Hey, guys, let's have a good race, I just wanna run, let's go." Congrats on being normal, person who can run 100 meters in less than 10 seconds! YOU ARE A DISAPPOINTING EGOTIST.


Yohan Blake, Jamaica. Cut from the beginning of this GIF: about seven seconds of Blake curled up in a crouch, not looking at the camera. Then he uncoils himself to full height and does this weird zombie/werewolf coming to life thing mixed with whatever that index finger flutter and smile is. Oh, and he's wearing a watch on his right arm.


Justin Gatlin, United States. Gatlin strides to the front of his lane to mean-mug the camera like he's in one of the old "This is your brain on drugs" commercials (ironic!) and then walks back to the fans and salutes them. He was also pacing throughout the intros. The BBC commentary before the race called the twice-banned Gatlin the villain, but, unlike every movie villain ever, he appears to have no time for small talk, which is neat. He is, however, villain-style mad.


Usain Bolt, Jamaica. So much going on here. He puts his fingers to his temples. He scratches an invisible record while wearing headphones. He makes walking fingers for some reason. He makes himself look pretty. He points at the camera. He holsters finger guns. He doesn't takes his eyes off the screen showing him doing all this until the very end, when he looks at the camera, flares his eyes wide open and cracks a smile.

All of this takes more time than the actual race did.


Ryan Bailey, United States. "C'mon, I'm not gonna win, but cheer for me!" At least Bailey did more than Gay? Also, why is he wearing long sleeves? To distract from the awful neck tattoo?


I mean, I'd sure want to distract from that. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty.)


Churandy Martina, Netherlands. Make love to the camera? Check. Admonish the camera for being aroused? Check. Look around at everyone? Check. Shake head in disbelief? Check.

If I had to give medals for the swag-off, I'm giving Bolt gold, Blake silver, and Martina edges Gatlin for bronze by looking happy to be insanely good at running. Powell ends up dead last for improvising something that wasn't actually an improvisation, just another example of him ruining things.