NEW YORK - The newly anointed "World's Fastest Man" does not consider the 100-meter race his favorite.
In fact, it wasn't even part of Usain Bolt's normal routine until he pleaded with his coach to let him try it. Known as a 200-meters specialist, Bolt conceded that part of the plan to bring the 100 into his repertoire was to get out of running the more taxing 400.
His coach, Glen Mills, finally relented. And now, even though it was never part of his grand plan, he is the new world recordholder, recording a time of 9.72 seconds after a remarkable run Saturday night at the Reebok Grand Prix at Icahn Stadium.
"I've been asking for 2 years to give me a chance," Bolt said. "[Mills] gave me a chance last year to run one 100 meters, and I had a 10.03. Then he decided, 'Hey, let's try this and see what we can do.' I showed him what I can do in the 100 now."
To most of the track world, this recordsetting surge has literally come as a bolt out of the blue. The former world recordholder, Jamaica's Asafa Powell (9.74 seconds), is a household name among track fans. America's best sprinter, Tyson Gay, also has similar name recognition.
Bolt, meanwhile, was not considered a contender for one of sports' most iconic records, until he unexpectedly ran a 9.76, the second-fastest time ever, last month at a meet in Jamaica.
That set the stage for Bolt vs. Gay, and though the setting was the Big Apple, it felt more like Jamaica Night on Randall's Island.
Gay, who was second in 9.85 seconds, said he knew there was a time in the 9.7s to be had.
"He ran a perfect race," Gay said. "I've got to take my hat off to him."
Bolt stands about 6-5. Part of the deal when Mills agreed to give him a chance at the 100 was that he not simply use it as "speed work" for the 200, but that he improve on his starts to turn himself into a true contender in the 100.
Showdowns with Powell certainly look more intriguing than they did 6 weeks ago.
The Jamaican national championships are scheduled for June 27-29 in Kingston. Powell, returning from a chest injury, is expected to be back by then.
"A lot of Jamaicans keep asking me, 'Do you think you can beat Asafa?' '' Bolt said. "I guess a lot of people are looking forward to that race." *