Usain Bolt declared himself the greatest athlete of all time after storming to victory in the Olympic Games 200m to seal an unprecedented second successive sprint double.
Bolt came to London facing questions over whether he was still the alpha male of the sprinting world after twin defeats to Yohan Blake in the Jamaican trials. But the 25-year-old, who retained his 100m title on Sunday in the second fastest time ever, emphatically silenced his doubters on Thursday, crossing the line in the equal fourth fastest time of all time of 19.32 seconds.
“It’s what I came here to do, I’m now a legend, I’m the greatest athlete to live,” said Bolt, who led a Jamaican clean sweep of the medals, ahead of Blake and Warren Weir.
“I did what I wanted. I came out of a rough season and I did what I had to do. I’ve got nothing left to prove. I’ve showed the world I’m the best. It’s wonderful. Jamaica has proven that we are the greatest sprint country.”
Bolt, the 100m and 200m champion at the Beijing Games in 2008, has now eclipsed the record of US track legend Carl Lewis, who won three golds and a silver in the sprints at the 1984 and 1988 Olympics.
Bolt chases ‘double treble’
Bolt will look to top off another epic Olympic campaign tonight when he goes in the 4x100m relay, chasing his third gold of the London Games.
The Jamaicans will not have it all their own way, missing the injured Asafa Powell from their stellar line-up in a likely two-way battle with a powerful US team.
“It could be a world record but you can never say because it’s a relay and it’s a baton so you never know. But for me, we’re just going to go out there and enjoy ourselves and run as fast as possible and it will be a good race to close the show again.”
Repeating feats in Rio Games a ‘hard reach’ - Bolt
Bolt, meanwhile, acknowlegded that repeating his staggering gold medal achievements in Rio in 2016 would be a tough mission as his younger rivals target his legacy.
“I think when I get to 30 I will be thinking about retiring. I’m not ready to retire yet. I love this sport, I have got all my success through this sport. I got all my fans through this sport. Track and field is way too hard.
“Blake is running 19.4 already, he’s running 19.7, so in the next four years he’s going to be firing. I think I want to get out before he starts running too fast.”
Blake, tipped as Bolt’s natural successor as the world’s fastest man, won silver in the 200m behind Bolt’s 19.32 seconds.
“I think it’s going to be a hard mission in Rio. Both these guys are 22 — I’m going to be 30, they are going to be 26. I think I’ve had my time. In life everything is possible, but for me this is going to be a hard reach.”
Rudisha inspired by mentor father
With his world record-breaking Olympic 800m triumph on Thursday, David Rudisha achieved a long-held goal of going one better than the silver medal his father, Daniel, won at the 1968 Games.
The 23-year-old Kenyan - whose father won silver in the 4x400m relay in the 1968 Games - did it in style as he shattered his own world record in what was the fastest ever 800m race.
Rudisha, who was the first Olympic champion since Cuban Alberto Juantorena in 1976 to break the world record at 800m, said he had been thinking of his father prior to the race.
“In fact even before I started my race I thought of how my father was watching me back at home on television because he couldn’t come here,” he said. “He was always encouraging me and I wouldn’t be here but for him. He is a big inspiration to me. I was always dreaming of doing better than him and go a step further than him.”
Published in The Express Tribune, August 11th, 2012.