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Off and Running
Tim Layden
April 27, 1998
Ato Boldon's sizzling 9.86 seconds in the 100 meters served notice that he has taken dead aim at the world record and the man who holds it, Donovan Bailey
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April 27, 1998

Off And Running

Ato Boldon's sizzling 9.86 seconds in the 100 meters served notice that he has taken dead aim at the world record and the man who holds it, Donovan Bailey

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This was especially true in light of Boldon's precocity, in not just athletics but also art, music and academics. As a 12-year-old in Trinidad, Ato says he ranked sixth in the country on a standardized test given to 50,000 children, yet his grades were mediocre. As a high school senior, he says, he scored 1280 on the SAT (including a strong 670 on the verbal portion), yet nearly failed to graduate and had to attend junior college for two years before enrolling at UCLA. The parallel to his track career is obvious: Fast starts followed by a flat curve at best, a flameout at worst.

"I get bored very easily, I know that," Boldon said as he sat at a picnic table near the track. "Some years I open fast, and all of a sudden my mind is racing ahead and I'm thinking of what it will feel like when I break the world record—or I just suddenly switch events. This year the word is patience? He keeps in mind a line of Scripture that has become his theme. "Hebrews 12," said Boldon. " 'Let us run with patience the race that is set before us.' "

Patience to be sure, but as Greene would remind him: company, too.

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