(Reuters) – Teenager Letsile Tebogo has attracted comparisons to Usain Bolt after showboating his way to the under-20 100 metres world title in a record time with a scorching run in Colombia on Tuesday.
The 19-year-old Botswanan clocked 9.91 seconds to improve the junior world record of 9.94 he set in the heats of the senior world championships last month, but clearly could have gone even faster.
Tebogo made a blistering start at Cali’s Pascual Guerrero Stadium and coasted through the final 20 metres, turning to gesticulate at silver medallist Bouwahjgie Nkrumie with a huge smile on his face as he cruised to the line.
The early celebrations were a deliberate echo of Bolt’s when the Jamaican great won the first of his eight Olympic sprint gold medals in a world record time of 9.69 at the 2008 Beijing Games.
“If somebody took it as disrespect, I’m really sorry,” Tebogo told the website of World Athletics.
“(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 day. He’s my idol – the person I look up to.”
Comparisons with Bolt immediately flooded onto social media and the run attracted the attention of the man himself, who retweeted the result.
Tebogo said he thought could have run as fast as 9.80 had he not coasted through the end of the race.
“We have more races to come, we didn’t want to go that far,” Tebogo said.
“But this is my year as a junior, we have to leave (the record) here for the next generation to come and break it.”
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney, editing by Peter Rutherford)