BERLIN -- Jamaican sprinting sensation Usain Bolt announced Monday that he was dropping out of the 200 meter race because he had not spent enough time practicing his pre- and post-victory dance.
Bolt sealed his reputation as the fastest man in the world Sunday with a new world record of 9.58 seconds in the 100 meter dash, breaking the previous record of 9.69 seconds he set during the Beijing Olympics last year. He was widely regarded as the favorite for the 200.
But even though Bolt's astonishing running prowess has won him numerous medals, it is his pre-race preening and post-race celebrations that have earned him mega-celebrity attention. Bolt's "lighting bolt" pose has become his signature, and he makes it at every race. Onlookers marveled at his chest thumping at Beijing before he even crossed the finish line in the 100 meter finals.
On Sunday, Bolt continued to run after crossing the finish line, lifting his arms as though soaring through the air. He and fellow Jamaican Asafa Powell, who placed third, later did an Irish step dance for the cameras. Bolt reportedly took private lessons from Michael Flatley to prepare the Irish jig.
Powell, who has been consistently overshadowed by his faster and more extroverted teammate, also tried to up his showmanship Sunday by taping his number six lane number over his mouth prior to the race.
Bolt's non-participation in the 200 is sure to disappoint, but he said that he took his role as an showboating superstar seriously. Although Bolt does not describe his antics before the race a friend close to him said that he had been practicing his moonwalk as an ode to Michael Jackson, but that a foot injury sustained from a car accident earlier this year prevented him from perfecting it. That injury has also hampered his training for the 200 but the friend said that was not the issue.
"He could win the 200, no problem," said the friend. "But he's not just going to go out there and make a fool of himself by walking backwards awkwardly. The world record will always be there for him to beat, but he only gets one chance to debut his moonwalk."