Good as gold. And a legend to behold
Putting the field sufficiently behind him that he could slow down over his last few strides and put his left index finger to his mouth to silence any critics, Usain Bolt won the 200 meters in 19.32 seconds this evening, making him the only man with two Olympic titles in that event.
He added it to the 100 metres gold he won on Sunday, duplicating the 100-200 double he produced at the Beijing Games four years ago.
This time, Bolt led a Jamaican clean sweep, with his training partner and pal Yohan Blake getting the silver in 19.44, and teenager Warren Weir taking the bronze in 19.84 – nearly a half-second behind the champion. All three share the same coach – Glen Mills.
“The guy is just on another planet right now,” Wallace Spearmon, the American who finished fourth in 19.90, said between sobs of disappointment.
Afterward, Bolt had plenty of energy left, dropping to the track to do five push-ups – one for each of his Olympic gold medals so far. Ever the showman, he bent down and kissed the track, then did it again a few minutes later, and also grabbed a camera from someone in the photographers’ well and trained it at the group who were clicking away
Bolt’s stated goal heading to London was to become a “living legend,” and today he made a great case for himself.
“I’ve got nothing left to prove. I’ve showed the world I’m the best. This is my moment. I’ll never forget this. I did what I wanted. I came out of a rough season and did what I had to do,” Bolt said, adding he wanted to go for a record but felt some strain in his back coming off the bend.
Drawn towards the outside in lane seven, Bolt glided around the bend and kicking powerfully down the home straight was always ahead of Blake who could not match his exploits in the Jamaican trials when he beat Bolt in both sprint events.
“It’s great. Of course. I want to thank Usain,” Blake said afterwards. “This is my first Olympics. I can’t complain.”
With his 6-foot-5 build, unusually tall for a sprinter, Bolt makes up for lumbering starts with warp speed stretch runs.
He was only the sixth fastest of the eight entrants out of the blocks in the 200, the exact same less-than-ideal reaction as he had in the 100. But with teeth clenched he used those long strides to propel himself quickly to the front.
It didn’t matter that he let up for the final three steps, taking a look to his left to check on Blake, who also was the silver medallist in the 100 metres.
Bolt’s time was exactly the same as three-time individual Olympic gold medallist Michael Johnson’s when the American set the then-record at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Back then, the thinking was that record would stand as the mark for decades. Then along came Bolt. His 19.30 in the 200 final at Beijing still stands as the Olympic record – and certainly would have been eclipsed today with a full-fledged sprint through the finish – but Bolt bettered that with a 19.19 at the 2009 world championships, where he also set the current 100 metres record of 9.58.
In all, the 25-year-old Bolt has won seven of the last eight major individual sprint titles in the 100 and 200 at Olympics and world championships, a four-year streak of unprecedented dominance. The only exception was a race he never got to run: Bolt was disqualified for a false start in the 100 metres final at last year’s world championships, and Blake won.
There were other setbacks for Bolt, who was troubled by minor leg and back injuries that were blamed for losses to Blake in the 100 and 200 at the Jamaican Olympic trials. That sparked some handwringing back home in Jamaica about how Bolt would do in London.
He’ll try to make it six for six over the past two Olympics in the 4×100-metres relay.
Qualifying starts tomorrow and the final is slated for Saturday.