Leslie Tobogo Sets New 100m Sprint Record
We knew he was good. We just didn't know he was this good -a young sprinter of such rare and precocious quality that everyone watching had no choice after the race but to reach for comparisons with the greatest to ever do it.
At the World Athletics U20 Championships Cali '22 on Tuesday (2), Letsile Tebogo of Botswana produced a truly jaw-dropping display of sprinting to smash his world U20 100m record and retain his title in 9.91 (0.8m/s), a peerless performance that had so many wondering - here and around the world - if they were looking at the next Usain Bolt.
Or perhaps the first Letsile Tebogo.
After a bullet start, Tebogo left his rivals trailing, his long, fluid stride gobbling up the blue track as he powered away at a pace no U20 athlete - not even Bolt himself - has ever run. With 30 metres to go, it was already celebration time, and Tebogo raised his right hand and began wagging a finger at his nearest rival, Jamaica's Bouwahjgie Nkrumie, looking across at him - smiling - all the way to the finish.
Given all of that, surely he wouldn't trouble the world U20 record of 9.94 he'd set at the recent World Championships in Oregon? Well, he could and he did, clocking 9.91 to come home clear of Nkrumie (10.02) and South Africa's Benjamin Richardson (10.12), with Thailand?s Puripol Bonsoon denied a medal by just one thousandth of a second - clocking 10.12 in fourth.
The first question to Tebogo after: why the celebration?
"The statement was to come out and enjoy the race," he said. "If somebody took it as disrespect, I'm really sorry. I saw the fans and (it was so) everybody watching at home can enjoy the race - to remind them a little bit about what Usain Bolt did back in the days. He?s my idol - the person I look up to."