Jamaica’s Lightning Bolt gets 2nd gold, 3rd up
Agence France-Presse, Associated Press
LONDON—Calling himself “the greatest athlete” of all time, Jamaica’s Usain Bolt sprinted into the pantheon of Olympic greats on Thursday as he stormed to victory in the Games’ 200 meters to seal an unprecedented second successive sprint double.
Bolt, who retained his 100 meters title in style on Saturday, crossed the line in 19.32 seconds—the equal fourth fastest time of all time—in front of a delirious sellout crowd of 80,000 at the Olympic Stadium.
The 25-year-old’s victory meant he bettered the record of US track legend Carl Lewis, who won three golds and a silver in the sprints at the 1984 and 1988 Games.
Earth’s greatest sprinter
Bolt’s victory also underlined his position as the greatest sprinter on the planet.
Bolt said: “This is the one I wanted and I got it. I’m now a legend, I’m also the greatest athlete to live. I’ve got nothing left to prove. I’ve showed the world I’m the best and, right now, I just want to enjoy myself.”
Bolt came to London facing questions over whether he was still the alpha male of the sprinting world after twin defeats to Yohan Blake in the Jamaican trials.
But he emphatically silenced his doubters on Thursday.
“It’s what I came here to do … I did what I wanted. I came out of a rough season and I did what I had to do. I’ve got nothing left to prove. I’ve showed the world I’m the best. It’s wonderful. Jamaica has proven that we are the greatest sprint country.”
As he approached the line, Bolt put his finger to his lips to hush the crowd as he eased up and crossed the finish line.
Ahead of Lewis, Owens
Afterwards, Bolt dropped to the deck and did press-ups, grabbed a camera and took pictures of Blake, and hugged fans, celebrating an achievement which put him ahead of greats such as Lewis and Jesse Owens.
Despite a troubled buildup, Bolt will now also be favored to retain his third title in the 4×100 relay on Saturday.
The only thing missing for Bolt was a new world record.
It was also the first time two individual track titles were successfully defended at successive Games since Finland’s Lasse Viren won the 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters in the Munich and Montreal Games in 1972 and 1976.
Bolt led a Jamaican clean sweep of the medals. Blake took the silver in 19.44 seconds and Warren Weir claimed a shock bronze in 19.84 seconds.
The only thing missing from the race was a new world record for Bolt, but he revealed he had felt a flicker of back pain during the race.
“I could feel the strain on my back a little bit so all I did was try to keep my form, run home and when I saw where I was going I stopped running because I knew it wasn’t going to be a world record,” he said.
Dazzling camera flashes
Running in lane seven, Bolt made an explosive start and was up on Weir in the lane outside him within five paces.
As he rounded the bend, Blake briefly threatened from lane four, but teeth clenched, eyes on the big screen and at full tilt, Bolt was far enough to slow down a full 10 meters from the line, raising his finger to his lips.
A surge of excitement followed him around the stadium, accompanied by dazzling camera flashes and chants of “Usain! Usain! Usain!”
When he completed his lap, Bolt got on his knees and kissed the finish line, then drew himself up and did his trademark “Lightning Bolt” pose, pointing at two grinning official timekeepers.
Bolt crossed himself and leapt onto the podium to receive his gold medal, then threw his flowers to the crowd after the anthem before departing with one final bow.
World record holder
The London Games were Bolt’s fourth global championship since 2008.
He has won six titles in the seven individual events in which he has competed, his one blip coming when he was disqualified from the Daegu world championship 100 meters final last year after a false start.
Bolt, also the world record holder in both the 100 and 200 meters, was not quite his usual playful self in the moments before he settled, an air of seriousness permeating a silenced stadium as he offered a regal-like wave.
Amid the tangible tension, he briefly crossed himself and pointed skywards before settling into his blocks. Once the gun sounded, a determined Bolt pulled out all the stops to burn off his rivals.
Apart from Bolt, eight men—Archie Hahn (1904), Ralph Craig (1912), Percy Williams (1928), Eddie Tolan (1932), Jesse Owens (1936), Bobby Morrow (1956), Valeriy Borzov (1972) and Carl Lewis (1984)—have won the sprint double at the same Olympics, but only Hahn and Lewis have successfully defended the 100 meters.
Hahn missed out on his chance of a “double-double” when the 200 meters was dropped from the 1906 Games and Lewis, after being upgraded to 100 meters champion in Seoul following Ben Johnson’s disqualification, lost to US teammate Joe DeLoach in the 200 meters.
Bolt, the 100 and 200 meters champion at the Beijing Games, has now eclipsed the record of Lewis, the US track legend who won three golds and a silver in the sprints at the 1984 and 1988 Olympics.
‘I’m the greatest’
Bolt showed less of his crowd-pleasing antics than usual and was subdued in the moments before the race when palpable tension gripped the crowd waiting to witness his coronation.
He pointed skywards before setting himself and as he rounded the bend, Blake briefly threatened but Bolt was not to be denied.
“I’ve done something that no one has done before, which is defend my double title,” Bolt said. “Back-to-back for me, I would say I’m the greatest.”
His opponents weren’t about to disagree.
Just an icon
“The guy is just on another planet right now,” said fourth placed Wallace Spearmon of the United States.
Bolt’s winning time of 19.32 seconds was outside his own world record. He said he wanted to become a living legend, but International Olympic Committee chief Jacques Rogge wasn’t ready to bestow that title even after the 200-meter win.
“Let him participate in three, four games, and he can be a legend. Already he’s an icon,” Rogge said. With a report from Reuters