Jamaican sprinting great adds to his legend
RIO DE JANEIRO – Usain Bolt won the men’s 200m final to claim his second gold medal at Rio 2016 tonight and keep alive his hopes of an Olympic “treble treble”.
Bolt, 29, ran 19.78 seconds to finish ahead of Canada’s Andre de Grasse who ran 20.02 seconds and France’s Christophe Lemaitre who stopped the clock at 20.12.
Britain’s Adam Gemili clocked the same time as Lemaitre, but was denied his first Olympic medal in a photo finish.
Bolt had already won the 100m in Rio and will be part of the Jamaica team in the 4x100m relay final on Saturday. He also claimed gold in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay at both Beijing 2008 and London 2012.
Before the race the living legend had spoken of possibly breaking his world record of 19.19 set in Berlin in 2009. But in the end he came nowhere near it. Bolt threw his arm to the ground in disgust after glancing at the clock and seeing his 19.78 seconds finish. It was a rare public demonstration of how seriously he takes his work despite the joviality.
The brilliant Jamaican became the first man in history to win both 100m and 200m titles at three consecutive Olympics dating back to 2008. But any chance of him breaking his world record probably disappeared when a sheet of light rain dampened the blue track inside the Joao Havelange Stadium minutes before the race. It was glistening with wetness when Bolt made his way onto the track, soaking up the raptures of the almost capacity crowd.
He excited his public on the start line with a samba dance before he settled down. Afterwards, when the disappointment of not breaking the world record evaporated he quite accurately mouthed ‘number one’ into the TV cameras. Bolt has not lost a major championships race over 200m since winning silver at the 2007 worlds in Osaka.
The result of tonight’s race was never in doubt from the start. Bolt started well in Lane 6 but his expertise on the bend meant he had already built close to a two-metre lead on the field as they entered the home straight and he maintained that advantage through to the finish line. He was the only one in the race to run sub-20.
Afterwards Bolt soaked up the adulation of the spectators as they chanted “Usain Bolt, Usain Bolt, Usain Bolt!” Never one to miss the moment, Bolt took a lap of honour saluting the fans while draped in both the Brazilian and Jamaican national flags.
Then his legion of fans in the stadium screamed their approval as he went into his trademark “lightning bolt” stance near the finish line.
Completing the field were Britain’s Adam Gemili in fourth position in a time of 20.12 seconds, the Netherlands’ Churandy Martina fifth in 20.13, LaShawn Merritt of the United States in sixth position in 20.19, Panamanian Alonso Edward in 20.23 in seventh place and Turkey’s Ramil Guliyev in eighth position in a time of 20.43 seconds.