Sunday, August 12, 2012
LONDON (Reuters) - Usain Bolt opened his London Olympics campaign with a Games record in the 100 metres final which erased any lingering doubts about his form and fitness.
He followed up by confirming to his own satisfaction that he was an Olympic legend when he became the first man to retain the 100 and 200 titles.
Finally on Saturday he anchored the Jamaican 4x100 metres relay team to a world record and a sixth Olympic track gold, one more than Carl Lewis. Lewis, the only other man to successfully defend the Olympic 100 title, also won four consecutive long jump titles.
The medals tally in the 100, 200 and sprint relays for a Caribbean nation of 2.7 million people finished on 11 with three golds to Bolt and one to women's 100 champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.
Jamaica also became the only nation apart from the United States to sweep the medals in the 200 where Bolt led Yohan Blake and Warren Weir across the line.
Eight days in the life of the three-times Beijing Olympic gold medallist began with fevered conjecture over Bolt's prospects after he lost to his training partner Blake over both the 100 and 200 at the Jamaican trials.
He withdrew from the Monaco Diamond League meeting while he received treatment from German doctor Hans Muller-Wohlfahrt on a tight right hamstring which had made his start in the trials look laboured and awkward.
In last Saturday's 100 heats, Bolt won with plenty in reserve, although few conclusions could be drawn as Blake looked equally comfortable.
The semi-finals followed a similar pattern. Bolt displayed the form which had led to his sensational world records in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the Berlin world championships the following year. However, world champion Blake was just as impressive in his race.
Sunday's final, the most eagerly anticipated event of the entire Olympic programme, proved a triumph for Bolt who strode across the line in an Olympic record 9.63 seconds ahead of Blake, a time only he has beaten.
In the 200 final he appeared on course for a world record when he surged majestically around the turn but slowed in the last few metres after feeling a twinge in his back. Blake was second gain.
The last track event of the Games reunited Bolt with the team mates who set the previous 4x100 world mark at the world championships in Daegu last year. Bolt pulled away from American Ryan Bailey on the final leg to reduce the world record to 36.84 seconds.
It will take time to fully absorb the magnitude of Bolt's achievements in London, which bear comparison with his feats in Beijing or Berlin even though there were no individual world records this time.
Staying at the top is usually harder than reaching the summit in the first place and the pressure on Bolt was unrelenting after those twin defeats by Blake at the national trials. Now is the time to celebrate, reflect and then to set new goals.
"I am not going to retire yet," he said after winning the 200 title. "I have made my goal, now I have to sit down and make another one."