Bolt finishes Olympics with golden world record breaking flourish for Jamaica in 4x100m relay
Saturday, 11 August 2012
August 11 - Usain Bolt rounded off what has been an outstanding London 2012 athletics programme in suitably outstanding fashion here tonight as – with all clowning put aside – he paid full attention to business on the final leg of the 4x100 metre final, moving clear of Ryan Bailey of the United States before dipping through the line to register the third world record seen in this stadium, bringing Jamaica home in 36.84sec.
In so doing, this affable icon of the sport earned his sixth gold of the Games, a feat that puts him fourth in the all-time list of track and field Olympians.
"It's always a beautiful feeling to end off like this," said Bolt, who switched into default crowd-pleasing mode with gold and record safely achieved, performing his trademark "To the World" stance, holding three fingers upward to mark his achievement, and even paying affectionate tribute to Britain's earlier winner of the 5000m, Mo Farah, by performing his own trademark "Mo-Bot".
Bolt added: "We did it last year in the World Championships – for me it is a wonderful feeling.
"I came here and I did what I wanted, so I am happy."
Just as Tyson Gay did in matching Bolt's 2008 Olympic winning time of 9.69 a year after Beijing, the United States matched the world record of 37.04 that Jamaica had set in the previous year's world championships.
The US sprinters are on the trail – but the trailblazers keep blazing ahead.
"When I took the baton, I was thinking 'run, run, run for my life'," said Bailey.
"But Usain Bolt is a monster."
Bolt – and Jamaica's – triumph was glorious but not unexpected.
The surprise of the night – and indeed of any night in this stadium – came in the men's javelin competition, where 19-year-old world junior champion Keshorn Walcott took gold ahead of a field of established performers to earn Trinidad and Tobago's first athletics gold since Haseley Crawford won the 100m at the 1976 Montreal Games.
A sensational evening for the twin Caribbean islands – currently undergoing heavy flooding – got even better in the concluding 4x100m, when their quartet was promoted to the bronze medal position after Canada were disqualified for running out of lane.
The Canadian runners, who were already half way round their lap of honour with flags waving, registered the news of their demise as it came up on the scoreboard, and subsided into stunned tears.
Trinidad and Tobago's late gain meant a record fourth track and field gold for their nation at these Games, bettering their previous gain of three medals at the 1964 Olympics – a timely result for a nation which later this month celebrates its 50th anniversary of gaining independence from Britain.
Walcott's winning effort of 84.58 metres was his fourth national record of the year in which he has improved his personal best by nine metres.
If he carries on at this rate, they will have to build a differently shaped stadium in Rio 2016.
It was the first time any athlete outside the USA or Europe has won an Olympic javelin title and the first field event gold for Trinidad and Tobago.
On an evening when a chilly wind made throwing problematic, Walcott was the only thrower to surpass himself.
Among those the powerful young man beat were the current world number one, Vítězslav Veselý of the Czech Republic, who finished fourth with 83.34m.
Norway's defending champion Andreas Thorkildsen could only manage 82.63m for sixth place, while Finland's former world champion Tero Pitkämäki has to settle for fifth place with 82.80m.
Oleksandr Pyatnytsya took silver with 84.51m and bronze went to Finland's Antii Ruuskanen, who managed 84.12m.
"I can't believe what I've just done," said Walcott, a former fast-bowling cricketer who won his world junior title in Barcelona last month.
"Coming here, my goal was to get a personal best.
"My coach said just to enjoy competing, so making the final and throwing a personal best with my first throw was great for me.
"Then in the second throw I got a national record.
"But it was frightening going into the last throw knowing I was in the gold medal position."
Bolt's total of six track and field gold medals has only been bettered by Paavo Nurmi of Finland and Carl Lewis of the United States, who each won nine, and Ray Ewry of the United States, who won eight.
He also becomes the second track and field athlete to complete a "double triple" at the Olympics – that is winning three successive events at successive Games – and the first to do it in 108 years.
At the Games of 1900 and 1904, Ewry won the standing triple jump, the standing long jump and standing high jump.
History does not record if he marked any of these achievements with either a forward roll or a demonstration of press-ups.
The women's 800m title went to the Russian who won the world title last year, Mariya Savinova, in a season's best of 1min 56.19sec, with Caster Semenya of South Africa, the world champion of 2009, taking silver in 1:57.23 after moving from sixth to second over the final 70 metres.
"Unfortunately I made the wrong move and it was too late when I made my run," said Semenya.
"But I am happy with silver from my first Olympics."
The United States women's 4x400m quartet of DeeDee Trotter, Allyson Felix, Francena McCorory and individual champion Sanya Richards-Ross claimed gold in a time of 3:16.87, the fastest seen in the last 19 years.
In the women's high jump, Russia's world champion Anna Chicherova lived up to her billing as favourite as she took gold with a leap of 2.05m, with silver going to Brigetta Barrett of the United States and bronze to Svetlana Shkolina of Russia, both of whom achieved personal bests of 2.03.