Reprinted from Jamaica Observer
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — Jamaica’s Usain Bolt stepped into the realms of immortality when he won his third-consecutive 100m title in a season’s best 9.81 seconds inside the Olympic Stadium here last night.
Bolt became the first man to win three Olympic 100m titles by beating his American rival Justin Gatlin for his seventh Olympic gold medal. And if there were any doubts as to who is the greatest sprinter of all time, the argument was settled once and for all.
Running out of lane five, Bolt had the second-slowest reaction time and was slowly away from the starting blocks, but once he got into his stride, the race was all over. He went past early leader Gatlin and even had enough time to once again celebrate by hitting his chest before crossing the line.
His winning time was his slowest of all his championship victories, and he was still .08-second faster than Gatlin, who clocked 9.89 seconds. Canadian Andre De Grasse snatched the bronze medal in 9.91, just ahead Jamaica’s Yohan Blake in fourth with a season’s best of 9.93 seconds.
Bolt had previously won the Olympic 100m titles in Beijing in 2008 and London in 2012. His country woman Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce had failed in her bid to add to her 2008 and 2012 Olympic triumphs in the 24 hours earlier.
After the race, approximately 57,000 screaming fans inside the Olympic Stadium chanted his name — “Usain Bolt, Usain Bolt” as the global superstar made his customary victory lap, saluting the spectators in the process.
A picture of his mother’s image appeared on the huge television screens and the cheers grew louder. She appeared just as excited as her son.
Bolt, at 29 years old, is one of the most recognisable and popular athletes in the world, and he didn’t disappoint his fans.
He was the master of ceremonies probably for the last time at the Olympic Games. He orchestrated the celebrations every stop he made. He even gave Vinicius — the official mascot of the Rio Olympics — a joyride around the stadium.
The writing was on the wall from the semi-final earlier when Bolt literally jogged 9.84 seconds. Gatlin had raced 90 metres before easing down in the last 10 metres for 9.94 seconds. The contest was as good as over then.
Bolt, who is said to be more popular than Brazilian legend Pele in some quarters, felt the love from the partisan Brazilian crowd. They cheered loudly when he stepped onto the track, but once Gatlin — twice suspended for doping violations — appeared, the boos reverberated around the stadium.
The world record holder of the 100m (9.58), 200m (19.19) and the 4x100m relay (36.84), Bolt saluted his fans, took selfies with a few, hugged others, then gave his signature Lightning Bolt pose to raptuous applause and showed why he is arguably the greatest sportsman alive.
“It was brilliant. I didn’t go so fast, but I’m so happy I won. I told you guys I was going to do it,” Bolt told journalists before explaining that the break between the semi-finals and the finals had been shorter than usual, which restricted the time for him to rest.
However, in an even more ominous warning to his rivals, Bolt said he was looking forward to challenging the world record in the 200m.
“The 200 metres will be the sweetest one,” he told reporters, while revealing that he was shocked by the booing in the stadium aimed at Gatlin.
“I was surprised by it. It was shocking; the first time I heard booing in a stadium. However, I just focused on my job and got it done,” he said.