Give Usain Bolt a rest on his birthday. After two gold medals and two world records in six days, he surely deserves it.
And don’t count on the Jamaican relay runners to drop the baton during Friday’s heats. It would be the worst present possible for a man already celebrating exalted greatness at 23.
“I am on my way to being a legend,” Bolt said.
Few would doubt that.
In his last five major finals going back to the Olympics, he has five gold medals and five world records. And on Saturday, he wants to make it a perfect six-for-six and repeat his Beijing Olympics 100, 200 and relay feat.
With his blowout win in the 200 late Thursday and world record of 19.19 seconds, he led Jamaica to a 3—0 sprint lead over the U.S. team, with the women’s 200 final set for Friday.
Now, it’s up to Allyson Felix to salvage some sprinting pride for the Americans.
There is nothing Felix can do about Bolt, but after winning three golds at the world championships in Osaka, Japan, two years ago, she knows something about streaks.
And after failing to win gold last year at the Olympics until the 4x400 relay, Felix has something to make up. She feels up to it.
“I feel I still have a lot of energy,” she said after two days of heats. “I’d love to win. I feel good.”
The Jamaicans, though, are riding an incredible high with five gold medals overall in the championships. And Olympic champion Veronica Campbell-Brown would hate to be the first one out.
So far, the Jamaican team has drawn all its inspiration from Bolt.
Gritting his teeth and pointing to the clock as soon as the record flashed, he slashed .11 seconds off the mark he set last year. And it came four days after breaking his 100 record by the same margin.
Bolt’s spirits got a boost before the start when teammate Melaine Walker added the world title to her Olympic gold in the women’s 400 hurdles, another success for the Caribbean island with outsized performances at the championships.
With a new take on former U.S. President John F. Kennedy’s famous Cold War quote “Ich bin ein Berliner,” Bolt pleased the locals with a training jersey saying “Ich bin ein Berlino,” referring to the bear mascot of the championships.
His running was even better than his show. From Lane 5, he gobbled up all the opposition by the end of the curve, and then let those huge arms and legs loose in a whirl of unmatched speed.
Once across the line, he stuck his tongue much like basketball great Michael Jordan used to. And in athletics, he now has the same unmatched stature.