Bolt announces "legend" status after completing sprint double while Rudisha is simply "extraordinary"
Thursday, 09 August 2012
August 9 - Usain Bolt fulfilled his own criteria for regarding himself as a legend here tonight as he completed his double defence of Olympic sprint titles by adding the 200 metres gold to the one he had already secured over 100m on Sunday night (August 5) – and in so doing consigned his young challenger Yohan Blake to a second silver medal.
Before he crossed the line in 19.32sec the defending champion (pictured top) had time to turn and look across at the training partner who had beaten him at both distances in the Jamaican trials, before putting a cautionary finger to his mouth.
Here was a definitive action which spoke louder than all the predictions that Bolt's time at the top was about to be ended by the athlete who had inherited his world 100m title following his disqualification last year and also recorded a 200m time of 19.26, second only to Bolt's world record of 19.19.
But if Bolt's victory – in a time which matched Michael Johnson's old world record – was the outstanding spectacle of the evening, the outstanding performance occurred an hour earlier when David Rudisha of Kenya became the first man to run the 800 metres in under 1min 41sec, stopping the clock at 1:40.91 in a truly stupendous race which saw all but one competitor break their personal best.
It was the first world record this stadium has witnessed and earned the highest praise from a watching former world 800m record holder – London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe.
"David Rudisha showed supreme physical and mental confidence to run like that in an Olympic final," said Coe.
"Instead of just doing enough to win the race he wanted to do something extraordinary and go for the world record as well.
"Rudisha's run will go down in history as one of the greatest Olympic victories.
"I feel privileged to have witnessed it in London."
While Bolt has proved to be an extraordinary performer over the 100m despite the fact that his lanky 6ft 5in frame is not ideally suited to such a short and explosive event, the 200m is his heartland; this is the event he trained for as a teenager, this the event he holds dear.
The evidence was there in Beijing four years ago when, after cavorting to his extraordinary world record in the 100m, he set about matching that feat in the 200 with total, grimacing concentration all the way to the line.
And so the sense of satisfaction at a job well done was obvious once he had completed a lap of honour which at one point saw him doing a bit of lighthearted freelancing as he briefly borrowed a photographer's camera and took some shots of Blake, his fellow Racers Track Club member.
It was some night for the Kingston track club with Blake recording a season's best of 19.44 and a third member, his fellow 22-year-old Warren Weir, ensuring an unprecedented clean sweep of Olympic medals by taking bronze in a personal best of 19.84 ahead of Wallace Spearmon of the United States, who clocked 19.90.
"I did what I wanted," Bolt said.
"I came out of a rough season and I did what I had to do.
"I'm now a legend.
"I am in the same category as Michael Johnson.
"I'm honoured – I grew up watching him break world records."
But he quickly added: "I don't want to say that I'm the greatest athlete of all time – I will let people decide that.
"The 200m was harder than I expected.
"I could feel the pressure coming off the bend and that's when I had to focus.
"I've got nothing left to prove.
"I've showed the world that I'm the best and, right now, I just want to enjoy myself."
After clarifying that the hush gesture on the line was directed at those who doubted him rather than at his young challenger, the 26-year-old went on to comment on his relationship with the young pretender who has pushed him hard this year.
"I said to Yohan in 2010 'You came around at the wrong time – these next two years are mine.
'After that you can go out and do what you want to do'.
"He's already run 19.2 and 9.7, so over the next four years he is going to be firing.
"I think I might look to get out early before he starts running too fast.
"But I'm not ready to retire yet – I love this sport."
The feeling is mutual.
Having set what was the inaugural world 800m record to be achieved in a championship, and hence without pacemakers, for the first time since Alberto Juantorena of Cuba had run 1:43.5 (1:43.50 in electric timing) at the 1976 Montreal Olympics and 1:43.4 (1:43.44) at the following year's Universiade in Sofia, Rudisha spoke with customary grace about the Bolt factor which may have deprived him of the limelight.
He also accepted the suggestion that he and Bolt might one day meet in the middle over 400 metres: "Maybe we can, just for fun – that would be great."
Both athletes had indeed started their careers in the 400m before travelling in differing directions to the events which they have redefined.
For Rudisha, winning gold here had an especial resonance given that his father and namesake won Olympic silver for Kenya in the 400m relay at the 1968 Mexico Games.
"I was thinking about my father, thinking he was in front of the TV watching me, because he wasn't able to come here," said Rudisha.
"When he won the silver medal he always had been dreaming to do better.
"I saw a magazine from the 1960s where he said he wanted to break the world 400m record, but he couldn't do it.
"So for me coming here to do it, for his son to do it, was a great honour.
"I thought it was going to be very difficult to break the world record without a pacemaker," Rudisha added.
"I was a little tired here after the rounds, I was feeling like 'Will I really do it?'
"But I thought I could run 1:41."
The intent of his front-running provoked extraordinary performances from the field which rapidly strung out behind him – how would Britain's Andrew Osagie have felt beforehand if you had told him he would run a personal best of 1:43.77 and come last? – and as runners of the quality of double world indoor champion Abubaker Kaki fell back, he was ultimately challenged most closely by two athletes who had arrived here from the recent World Junior Championships.
Botswana's 18-year-old Nijel Amos took silver with a world junior record and national record of 1.41.73 – exactly the mark which Coe recorded for his world record in Florence in 1981.
It was Botswana's first ever Olympic medal, having made their debut in the Games at Moscow in 1980.
Bronze went to Rudisha's 17-year-old compatriot Timothy Kitum, who set a personal best of 1:42.53.
Rudisha acknowledged the quality of the youngsters whom he expects to be challenging him in future years, but he also said he felt capable of improving the mark he had just set.
"I think if I can get the perfect place, get there fresh and get good pacing, I think I can improve the record," he said.
Barbora Špotáková of the Czech Republic defended her javelin title with a best effort of 69.55 metres after the Russian who had beaten her to the world title the year before, Maria Abakumova, was under par and failed to reach the latter stages of the final.
German throwers took silver and bronze: Christina Obergföll threw 65.16 with her first and only scoring throw and Linda Stahl reached 64.91.
Britain's Goldie Sayers, who injured herself in throwing a British record of 66.17 in the pre-Games Samsung Diamond League meeting and failed to qualify here, must have looked on very wistfully from her BBC vantage point; it can be a cruel sport.
In the absence of the Olympic silver medallist and home hope Phillips Idowu – who was unable to qualify because of longstanding injury problems – the triple jump title went to the man who had beaten the Briton at the previous year's World Championships, Christian Taylor, who produced the best jump of 2012, 17.81m.
Fellow American Will Claye took silver with 17.62 and bronze went to Italy's Fabrizio Donato with an effort of 17.48m.
Ashton Eaton, who set the world decathlon record of 9,039 points in the US trials, duly became the 13th American to win the Olympic title – the first of which went to Jim Thorpe at the Stockholm Games of 1912 – with a total of 8,869 which left him 198 points clear of his comptariot Trey Hardee, who beat him at last year's World Championships.
Bronze was picked up by Cuba's Leonel Suárez for a second successive Games, thanks in large part to an Olympic-best throw in the decathlon's javelin discipline of 76.94m.