Usain Bolt puts on game face to take 100-metre glory
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Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt added another chapter to his legendary career Sunday, setting a new Olympic record of 9.63 seconds for the 100-metre race at the London Games. Bolt's time was only .05 seconds slower than his own 100-metre world record.
special correspondent at London Games
Usain Bolt once more made history on Sunday, winning gold in the 100-metre race at the 2012 London Games and setting a new Olympic record.
Finishing the race in 9.63 seconds, he joined Carl Lewis as only the second sprinter to successfully defend the 100-metre title in back-to-back Olympics. But unlike the former American track and field star, Bolt finished both those races ahead of all the other runners – at the 1988 Games in Seoul, Lewis was designated the winner only after Canadian Ben Johnson was disqualified.
Despite the pressure and growing doubts over whether he could win gold again, the Jamaican sprinter – known for his nonchalance and contagious playfulness on the track – secured his fourth Olympic gold medal and wrote another chapter of sports history. His previous medals came at the 2008 Beijing Games for the 100- and 200-metre dashes and the 4x100-metre relay.
Finishing ahead of fellow Jamaican sprinter Yohan Blake (9.75 seconds) and American Justin Gatlin (9.79 seconds), Bolt ran the world’s second-fastest time ever for the 100 metres, only .05 seconds behind the world record time of 9.52 he set at the Berlin World Championships in 2009.
PHOTO: Gold Medal Winner Usain Bolt crossing the line 9:63 twitter.com/ESPNOlympics/s…— ESPN Olympics (@ESPNOlympics) Août 5, 2012
Bolt thus conserved his “world’s fastest man” title and buried the troubling memory of his disqualifying false start at the final of the 2011 World Championships in Daegu, South Korea.
"It does play on my mind, I'd be lying if I said I didn't think about [the false start]. But when I came out and they announced my name and the crowd gave me that roar, everything just went away," Bolt said.
The Jamaican sprinter did not get a good jump off the starting blocks on Sunday evening, recording only the fifth-fastest reaction time of the group.
"I didn't get the best reaction in the world but I executed, that was the key. The coach said don't worry about it, the best part of your race is at the end,” he admitted later to reporters.
Despite the less-than-perfect start, Bolt overtook his rivals about halfway through the race and bore down on the finish line with uncharacteristic intensity and seriousness. The showman Bolt appeared only after the race was over.
Draped in the Jamaican flag and jogging alongside Blake – who was the world champion in 2011 and ran his personal best in the race – Bolt pointed at supporters and embraced friends in the stadium’s stands.
Bolt’s dash kept the 80,000 spectators in London in a near trance, and his brilliant win sent them into delirious applause. Because of the skepticism surrounding his ability to perform at previous levels, the victory was perhaps Bolt’s sweetest to date.
The win sealed his place in the pantheon of Olympic legends, but may only be the start of a brilliant competition for Bolt and team Jamaica. On Thursday Bolt will once more face off against Blake in the 200-metre dash, and later he will compete in the 4x100-metre relay, giving the living legend the chance of leaving London with three golds.
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