When Usain Bolt crossed the line of the 100m men's World Championships and the clock showed a new world record of 9.58 there were many things that demonstrated how special his performance was. Most poignant of all was the reaction captured by the BBC of Michael Johnson; He stared at the studio monitor in disbelief, utterly speechless. That the man who left the world speechless in Atlanta should himself be speechless says all we need to know about Bolt's run. Quite simply it took the world's breath away.

In the ancient world, particularly in Greece, supreme athletes were so revered that some were worshipped as gods and Usain Bolt is rapidly being treated with similar adulation. Whilst it's important to say that such a response to a created human being is ludicrous, we do of course want to affirm that there is something profoundly ‘special' about this athlete. He takes only 40 steps to complete the 100 whilst all other athletes take about 45. He isn't the quickest out of the blocks but by 25m (at the end of the ‘drive phase') he is level with the field. And as everyone knows, once he's level at this stage then the race is already over.

In Psalm 8 it is written ‘you have made him (mankind) a little lower than the heavenly beings' (8:5) and it's at times of sporting brilliance like this that such a verse really gels with our experience, for there is something ‘other worldly' and ‘ethereal' about watching Usain Bolt run. But lest we get carried away with this man's greatness scripture has a wonderfully balanced outlook on things as it compares men and women to the creator God: ‘what is man that you are mindful of him and the son of man that you care for him?' (8:4)

At the moment many are speculating about how fast Usain will run - will he break into 9.4, are we to expect another giant leap forward in the World record? But whatever his final achievement over this distance, and however spectacular it turns out to be, we all know that he has limits. He may be supreme among athletes but he is still a limited human being. But God, the creator who made Usain Bolt is limitless.

In sport we love debates about who is the best, and at the moment it's obvious that Usain Bolt is the fastest of all time. He's the best. Such comparative words though have no place with God. We should never speak of God being better, or even the best, when compared with anyone or anything else - he is ‘the only' - beyond compare, and a proper view of God should either leave us speechless or bursting forth with praise!
Note: This article was written by Pete for Christians in Sport @ 20/08/2009.