Usain Bolt, shown here on his way to World record two, in the 200 meters, was part of a third world record this evening as Jamaica, with Bolt on third leg and Powell on fourth leg, ran 37.10 for the world record! In his column Bob Ramsak discusses that record and the rest of evening 8 in the Bird's Nest.
THIRD GOLD, THIRD WORLD RECORD FOR BOLT
By Bob Ramsak
(c) 2008 TRACK PROFILE Report, all rights reserved
BEIJING – It’s become cliché but it still rings true: Everything Usain Bolt touches turns to gold. And this week in Beijing the 22-year-old’s Midas touch includes a large dash of world record as well.
Today’s penultimate evening of track and field at Beijing’s Olympic Stadium was no different. Joining with teammates Nesta Carter, Michael Frater and anchor Asafa Powell, the Jamaican quartet again stamped their authority on the world of sprinting after smashing the world record in the 400m relay, clocking a jaw-dropping 37.10.
Their mark took a hefty 0.30 seconds from the previous mark set by a U.S. squad at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. That record was anchored by Carl Lewis, a man who eight years earlier took home four gold medals in a single Games, but Bolt said he’s not interesting in adding the 4x400 or long jump to his repertoire in an attempt to emulate Lewis the man the American emulated, the legendary Jesse Owens who took four gold medals at the 1936 Games in Berlin.
“I’m just happy with my three golds,” Bolt said. “I’m just happy with my three world records.”
That’s a claim that Lewis was never able to make.
In Beijing the U.S and Great Britain, the defending champions, never made it to the line after bombing out in yesterday’s qualifying round, giving the Jamaicans the heavy favorite role. Carter and Frater gave Bolt a narrow lead, which he extended well out reach as he powered through the turn. It then came down to Powell, the second fastest man in history. Leaving a tattered field behind him, Powell scorched the final straight, finishing nearly a full second ahead of Trinidad (38.06). Taking the surprise bronze was Japan (38.15) with Brazil (38.24) fourth.
- As Jamaicans Bungle Baton, Russia Prevails in Women’s 4x100
After claiming five of six medals in the women’s 100 and 200, Jamaica was the overwhelming favorite in the women’s 4x100, but their nearly unparalleled wave came to an abrupt end between legs two and three, with Sherone Simpson and Kerron Stewart, both medalists here, botching the exchange.
Russia rolled on to victory in 42.31, with Belgium taking a surprise silver with a national record 42.54, a perfect ending to two-time European double sprint champion Kim Gevaert’s career. On the eve of the Games, Gevaert had announced that this season would be her last. It was her first Olympic medal.
Nigeria took the bronze in 43.04, edging Brazil (43.14).
- Hooker scales Olympic Pole Vault Record
Australian Steve Hooker, a member of the pole vault’s six-meter club, pulled off a third attempt clearance at 5.90m to win the gold, topping the slightly favored Russian Yevgeniy Lukyanenko. Who topped out at 5.85m. Hooker went on the clear 5.96m as well on his third attempt, adding a centimeter to the Olympic record.
- Clay: From Athens Silver to
Capping a solid two-day effort, American Bryan Clay turned his silver medal of four years ago to gold in the decathlon. Never seriously challenged, Clay tallied 8791 points to earn the “World’s Greatest Athlete” title, well ahead of Andrei Krauchanka of Belarus (8551), and surprise bronze medallist Leonel Suarez, whose 8527 points was a national record for Cuba. Defending champion and world record holder Roman Sebrel was a distant sixth, 550 points behind with an 8241 total.
- Dibaba Nabs First-Ever 5000/10,000m Olympic double
The eagerly-anticipated battle of the dueling D’s – defending champion Meseret Defar and 10,000m champion Tirunesh Dibaba – in the 5000m came down, as expected, to the final lap. It just took the Ethiopian duo an excruciatingly long time to get there.
Simply put, Dibaba became the first woman in Olympic history to add 5000m gold to a 10,000m triumph. And she did it with the slowest winning time ever. For Dibaba, who ran 29:54.56 one week ago to take 10,000, the second fastest performance in history, it was just as well.
“I was expecting a much faster pace,” Dibaba said. “The 10,000 was really tough. But today we were running for gold, and it was also tough.”
Certainly the toughest 15:41.40 race she’s ever run in her life. And the opening laps were quite painful for the spectators as well.
With no one wanting to lead, it was Russia’s 3000m Steeplechase champion Galkina-Samitova who was forced into the pacing duties. Passing the first 1000m in 3:39.20, it was obvious she wasn’t too happy with the chore.
Elvan Abeylegesse, the 10,000m silver medallist, was apparently bored with the pace as well, and made a move to the front at about the 1500m mark to up the tempo a bit and reach the end of the second kilometer in 6:45.41. The sluggish pace continued for the next several laps, with a dozen women still in the lead pack. That heavy traffic produced quite a bit contact, most notably to Defar who was clipped from behind and nearly knocked off balance with just over four laps to go.
While the lead changed hands several times, it was again Abeylegesse, just as she did in the waning stages of the 10,000, who upped the tempo again considerably with 800 meters to go. Dibaba remained on her should, with Defar and Ethiopian No. 3, Meselech Melkamu, looking strongest.
The action hit fever pitch at the bell when Dibaba took command, with Defar and Abeylegesse tagging along. She gapped the pursuers just before entering the turn, but surprisingly, it was the Turk who was doing the chasing. Finishing in just under 60 seconds, Dibaba was never challenged as she approached the line. Nor was Abeylegesse (15:42.74) who deserved her second silver of the Games. Defar couldn’t summon her trademark kick, but held on to take the bronze in 15:44.12.
“I tried to do my best to win,” said the Ethiopian-born Abeylegesse, whose double distance silver was also an Olympic first. “My coach told me that I had to accelerate in the race, and I tried to do that.”
Defar, whose disappointment showed during the victory ceremony, said she ran with pain in the lower part of her right leg over the last few laps, one reason why her kick failed her. Of the dawdling pace, she said, “I just thought it would be best to wait until the end to up the pace.”
In the mad scramble for bronze, Kenyans Sylvia Kibet (15:44.96) and Vivian Cheruiyot (15:46.32) fell a bit short, finishing fourth and fifth. Russian Lilia Shobukhova was sixth (15:46.62), and Turk Alemiute Bekele (14:48.48) seventh.
Out of contention in the late stages were American Shalane Flanagan, the 10,000m bronze medallist, who faded to 10th after running near the front for much of the race, and Galkina-Samitova, who was left behind with about 800 to go. The 3000m Steeplechase world record holder finished 12th.
- Magi over Lebedeva in the Long Jump by the Slimmest of Margins
Brazil’s Maurren Higa Maggi took control of the women’s long jump from the outset with a big opening round 7.04m jump, one that held up for the win. But defending champion Tatyana Lebedeva of Russia didn’t go down without a fight. After a 6.97m effort in the first round, she reached 7.03m in the last to miss by the narrowest of margins.
After the doping disqualification of Ukraine’s Lyudmila Blonska, 20-year-old Blessing Okagrabe of Nigeria was a late hour entrant as the 13th finisher in the opening round. She took full advantage of the upgrade, to win the bronze with a 6.91.
Swede Carolina Kluft, the 2004 champion in the heptathlon, gave up an almost sure medal in the multi-event to focus instead on the long jump. She only reached 6.49, finishing a disappointing ninth.
“It’s the biggest moment of my life,” she said. “I don’t know what to say.”
Competition in the stadium concludes on Saturday with finals in the women’s high jump and men’s javelin, the men’s 800, women’s 1500, and both 4x400m relays. The men’s marathon, the final even on the track & field schedule, will set of on Sunday morning, the last day of the Games.