Bolt’s last run ends in world mark, 3rd gold
Agence France-Presse, Associated Press
LONDON—After an unforgettable performance in the 4×100-meter relay, Usain Bolt of Jamaica wanted a souvenir with which to remember his second Olympics.
His grip tightened around his object of choice: not a trinket featuring the London Games’ omnipresent one-eyed mascots, but the baton he had received from his training mate, Yohan Blake, and carried across the finish line in world-record time moments earlier.
The Jamaican team that Bolt anchored on Saturday set a world record of 36.84 seconds to edge the United States squad, which tied the Jamaicans’ previous world mark of 37.04.
Only after he had secured his sixth gold medal in two Olympics, completing a triple-double more impressive than any posted by a US Olympic men’s basketball Dream Team in 1992 or now, did Bolt lose a piece of history that he considered his.
An official asked for the baton, and Bolt grudgingly relinquished it. His smile disappeared. It was no way for a legend to exit the world’s stage.
But by the time the medals ceremony was held, Bolt had his baton back. “He said I have to give it back, or the relay would be disqualified,” Bolt said.
“That was kind of weird.” He added, “I guess somebody talked to the guy and said you need to give him the baton.”
Bolt the showman
Bolt did not need the baton to make like a conductor and lead the crowd in the wave after the playing of Jamaica’s national anthem, a gesture that was Bolt at his sportive best.
In a competition in which medal counts and other nationalistic displays often take center stage, it took a showman of Bolt’s stature to twice take the Games by storm and remind people that sports, even at its highest level, is child’s play.
Bolt, 25, became the first man to successfully defend his 100- and 200-meter titles, and he helped Jamaica become the first country to successfully defend its men’s sprint relay title since 1976.
The first and only other time a track and field athlete won three events at consecutive Olympics was in 1904, when Ray Ewry won the standing high jump, the standing long jump and the standing triple jump.
Bolt’s not one to stand around. He was animated in the minutes before the relay, flexing his muscles in a Mr. Universe pose and shooting an invisible arrow into the Olympic Stadium crowd, which cheered Bolt and his teammates as if they were Britons.
Faster than the wind
Bolt, in particular, got the same roar as Britain’s Mo Farah, who earlier in the night had added the 5,000 title to his 10,000 crown.
After Blake ran down the American Tyson Gay on the third leg, giving Bolt a slight lead, he ran faster than any wind. The American anchor, Ryan Bailey, ran well but could not keep pace with Bolt. Who could?
Asked if his performance would have been good enough to overtake any other sprinter in the world, Bailey smiled and said: “That’s tough to say. Bolt, he’s an animal, he’s a beast. Once he opens his stride up, it’s tough to stay with him. I just ran my heart out.”
“Basically, we are not human,” Blake joked. He added: “We are not normal guys. We are from space.”
They are prone to acting spacey. As Bolt crossed the finish line, he folded his arms in a heart shape over his head, imitating the signature move of his friend, Farah, who had earlier stolen Bolt’s signature arrow gesture.
Bolt did not sound like someone with a third Olympics in his future. “I think at the age of 30, it’s going to be hard to do great things,” he said. “I’m just going to enjoy the moment. I did what I came here to do.”
Sebastian Coe, a former track star and the chief of the London Olympic organizing committee, called Bolt a legend. With his performance on Saturday night, set against a circle of camera flashes, Bolt proved himself to be part-man, part-myth and wholly unique.
“There will never be another like him,” Farah said. “We take him for granted, but he’s absolutely amazing.”
“A wonderful end to a wonderful week,” Bolt said. “What else do I need to do to prove myself as a legend?”
6 for 6
After the win, Bolt held up three fingers, one for each of his golds.
He is now six for six in Olympic finals over his career—breaking four world records in the process, including three in Beijing in 2008.
Bolt also heads home with an extra souvenir—the yellow baton. Kissing the baton, he asked his teammates to autograph it.
He reiterated that this could be it for him on track and field’s biggest stage. Bolt turns 26 on Aug. 21, and refuses to commit to showing up at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.
“It’s going to be hard to really do that. I’ve done all I want to do,” said Bolt. “I’ve got no more goals.” He also earned medals in the 100 in 9.63 seconds on Sunday—the second-fastest time in history—and the 200 in 19.32 on Thursday.
‘He’s a monster’
The US quartet of Trell Kimmons, 100 bronze medalist Justin Gatlin, Gay and Bailey, got the silver in 37.04, equaling the old record that Bolt helped set at last year’s world championships. Trinidad and Tobago took the bronze in 38.12.
As Blake and Gay rounded the race’s final curve, they were pretty much in sync, stride for stride.
When that duo was done, the relay came down to Bolt vs. Bailey, who was fifth in the 100 meters in 9.88. Not exactly a fair matchup.
Taking the baton in his left hand just before the limit of the changeover area, Bolt swiftly transferred the yellow baton to his right hand. Bailey was neck-and-neck with Bolt, but the Jamaican dipped his head and pushed through his drive phase.
After 20 meters, the head came up as he reached terminal velocity, Bailey by that stage trailing in his towering wake.
“Wow,” Bailey said. “He’s a monster.”
In more than a century of modern Olympics, no man had set world records while winning the 100, 200 and 4×100 relay—until Bolt did it in Beijing. None had won the 200 meters twice, let alone completed a 100-200 double twice—until Bolt did so in 2008 and 2012.
“It’s always a beautiful thing to end on this note,” Bolt said. “It was a great championship, I’m happy. The team came out and gave it their all. I knew it (a world record) was possible, I wish we could have gone faster, but I guess we leave room for improvement.”—With reports from the New York Times News Service