Usain Bolt won the 200m at a canter, as he was unchallenged at the finish on a dramatic night at the Olympic Stadium on Thursday.
The great Jamaican, who now wants to be called a “legend”, did a few push-ups after clocking 19.32 seconds to show the world that he still had a lot of energy to spare.
He achieved that time despite easing up a little at the finish, looking sideways and putting his right index finger to his lips as though to say: “No more arguments as to who is the best”.
In an electrifying evening at the Olympic stadium on Thursday, Bolt became the first man in history to win back-to-back gold medals in the 100 and 200m in the Olympics. The world records of 9.58 and 19.19, incidentally, were against his name and Bolt was in no hurry to alter them.
The world champion, who kept the crowd in good humour with a new wave of his hand when his name was called, burst to a reasonable start — only the sixth best in the eight-man line-up — and ran the bend in his unmatched fluent style.
This was Bolt’s event. He had always said that. It was the 200 that had brought him into focus as the world junior champion in 2002, much before the world took note of him in Beijing.
Yohan Blake had beaten him back home in Kingston in the Jamaican trials.
And that had been his only loss since June 2008 when he won in Ostrava. Through 17 finals he had remained unconquered.
As he began putting distance between him and the rest, Blake made a gallant attempt on his left, putting in everything through the last 50m. But as Bolt neared the finish he could glance sideways, see that Blake was not posing a danger and eased up.
He was slowing down faster than normal but there was no threat of losing his grip over the gold.
It was a Jamaican sweep of the medals, as Blake with a season best 19.44 and lesser known Warren Weir with a personal best 19.84 took silver and bronze. It was the second silver for Blake after the 100m, and nobody had been that fast in winning the silver.
“The key was to run the corner as fast as possible. I think, I ran it a little too fast as, when I came off, I could feel a slight strain in my back,” said Bolt, even as he explained his silence signal as one meant for doubters, “‘Stop talking, I am a legend’.”
Bolt’s time was 0.02 short of his own Olympic record but matched Michael Johnson’s time clocked in Atlanta in 1996. He has seven gold medals in all in the 100 and 200m in the Olympics and world championship and the only blot has been the disqualification for a false start in the 100m at the last world championship in Daegu.
Praise for Blake
Bolt thanked Blake for giving him the wake-up call by beating him in the Jamaican trials and told the media that the talented young man had come around the wrong time.
“I had told Blake, you came around the wrong time. The next two years are mine till the Olympics,” said Bolt stressing that he had trained a lot harder to achieve his mission.
Blake had no complaint about being second best to the very best in the sport.
“I came off the turn and saw the big man in front of me. I said Ok, God says it is Usain’s time,” Blake remarked.
“He is the God of track and field. He is a legend. It is his year. It will be my time soon,” said Blake.
Bolt said he would party like it was his birthday, but only after the 4x100m relay, in which he felt that a world record was possible.
“It is not going to hit you until you sit down and think about it. I know that when I sit down and think about the struggles that I have been through over the seasons, it will be emotional,” said Bolt.
Comparisons were being made with Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, Jesse Owens and Carl Lewis, but Bolt said he was happy to be on top in track and field.
About being the greatest Jamaican, he said Bob Marley was one of the greatest and he was just carrying out his duty. “We are the same, we are just trying to make Jamaica the best country in the world,” he said.
No retirement now
Bolt said he loved athletics and was definitely not retiring soon, but conceded that Blake was getting quicker and that in four years he would be on fire.
“I think I want to get out before he starts running too fast,” said Bolt, who suggested that he was not 100 per cent coming into the London Games.
“I will be 30, and these guys will be 26. I think I have had my time.
“In life everything is possible, but for me this is going to be a hard reach,” said Bolt about going to Rio in 2016 to defend his medals.
Bronze medallist Warren Weir recalled how he was in high school when Bolt ran the world records in Beijing. “I was watching on television and now I am at a press conference beside him,” said Weir.
Bolt graciously conceded that although he considered himself the greatest athlete, the honour of being the best athlete should go to decathlete Ashton Eaton, for doing 10 events.