Usain Bolt gave the crowd a wave in the manner of Queen Elizabeth II of Britain before racing to the finish line of the 200 meters to seal a historic sweep of the track sprints at the London Olympics.
Bolt won in 19.32 seconds at the Olympic Stadium to lead a Jamaican medals sweep. Yohan Blake got the silver in 19.44 and Warren Weir took bronze in 19.84.
“I’ve done it, this is what I wanted; I’ve wanted to become a legend,” he told reporters after his race. “You can bask in my glory now.”
Bolt, 25, looked over to his friend Blake on his left side as he approached the finish line. He placed his finger over his lips as he became the only man to successfully defend both the 100- and 200-meter titles at an Olympics.
His triumph also made him the first runner to retain two titles since Finland’s Lasse Viren won the 5,000- and 10,000- meter races at the 1972 Munich Olympics and the 1976 Montreal Games. Bolt set an Olympic record of 9.63 seconds in his 100- meter victory on Aug. 5.
“For me, that was for all the doubters, all the people saying I wasn’t going to win,” Bolt said. “They can stop talking now, I’m a legend.”
Carl Lewis, the former U.S. track star whose achievements Bolt surpassed by defending both sprint titles, questioned the Jamaican’s rapid improvement at the 2008 Beijing Games, and also said the Caribbean country’s drug-testing regime wasn’t as rigorous as it should be.
“I’m going to say something controversial right now. Carl Lewis, I have no respect for him,” Bolt said when asked to compare himself to the American. “It was all about drugs. Talking about drugs, about drug stuff for me. For an athlete to be out of the sport to be saying that, that’s really upsetting for me. As far as I’m concerned, he’s just looking for attention, that’s all.”
Bolt said he may not be back for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in four years when he’ll be 29, and is considering skipping next August’s world championships in Moscow.
“It’s going to be a hard mission,” he said, pointing at silver medalist Blake and bronze medalist Weir. “These guys are running extremely well right now.”
The sprinter’s success was celebrated late into the night in Jamaica, where his win, and the medal sweep, brought thousands of flag-waving fans to the streets.
Preston Gordon, 75, a Jamaican who moved to London when he was 19, said Bolt’s impact on his birth country matched that of reggae legend Bob Marley.
“It’s just amazing what he’s done for such a small country,” said Gordon, who was inside the stadium. “It’s out of this world. I don’t think what he’s done will ever happen again.”
Bolt had come to London with some question marks about his form and fitness after losing in both the 100 and 200 meters to Blake, his 22-year-old training partner, at the Jamaican trials in June and July.
“Blake kind of knocked on my door and said, ’Usain, this is the Olympic year, you’ve got to get serious. You’ve got to remember that I am here and I am ready to go.’ That was good for me, it really opened my eyes to what was really going on,” Bolt said.
He recalled telling Blake, whom he’s nicknamed “The Beast” for the intensity of his training, that he didn’t have a chance of usurping him when they started working out together.
“I said to Yohan Blake in 2010 that you came around at the wrong time because this is my time,” Bolt said. “These next two years are mine. After that you can go on and do what you have to do.”
Before the start, wearing a yellow cap back to front, Bolt shared a fist bump with both a beaming volunteer standing behind his blocks and Blake, clapped to the crowd and then looked up to the sky. He got the biggest roar from the capacity crowd of 80,000 when he finished his pre-race rituals with a wave in a manner akin to that of the British monarch.
Bolt said he’d come up with the idea for his impersonation when he talked to Blake and Weir before the race.
“We wondered, what are we going to do?” Bolt said. “Blake was saying I’ve got something new, and Weir was going to do something, so I was left alone and I was like: ‘What am I going to do?’ So I did the wave.”
Bolt led the field from the start, with Blake pushing him at the end as he finished in a time that equaled the mark set by Michael Johnson when the American won gold at the Atlanta Games in 1996.
Bolt is the only person to have run below 9.60 in the 100 meters and under 19.20 in the 200 meters. He broke his own world records in both distances at the 2009 world championships in Berlin, where he ran 9.58 to win the 100 and 19.19 to take the 200.
Although Bolt said he’s not been “100 percent” fit and that he’d felt a strain in his back during the 200, he’s aiming to break the 400-meter relay world record with his teammates tomorrow. Jamaica is the defending Olympic champion and set a world mark at last year’s world championships in Daegu, South Korea.
“It’s a possibility,” Bolt said. “It would be a good way to close the show again.”
To contact the reporters on this story: Tariq Panja in London at firstname.lastname@example.org; Danielle Rossingh in London at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at firstname.lastname@example.org