What can you say about Usain Bolt? In the years since his amazing three world records in Beijing in 2008, and his amazing two world records in Berlin in 2009, he has had, for him, his ups and downs.
Usain Bolt, London Olympics 100 meters, photo by PhotoRun.net
Yohan Blake beat Usain Bolt in the Jamaican Trials in June, first in the 100 meters and then in the 200 meters.
Justin Gatlin, who had been on a role since the beginning of 2012, had been quite focused on making the Olympic final. The 2004 Olympic champion, Justin Gatlin has returned from a 4 year drug ban, and stayed focused on his sprinting, running a PB of 9.80 when he won the Olympic Trials.
Tyson Gay, the 2007 triple gold medalist, has had trials and tribulations like Odysseus in Odyssey. He did not make the final in 2008. His silver medal in the 2009 World Champ was done in pain. In 2010, he defeated Usain Bolt in the 100m in Stockholm, but did not make a big thing about it. “Usain was not in his top form,”
noted Tyson. This is probably one of the reasons why Usain Bolt never shows anything but respect for Tyson. At the end of 2010, Tyson ran 9.69 for the AR.
Tyson was hurt in July 2011 and did not run again until June 9, 2012, where he ran 10.00 to win the B heat in the 100 meters. At the trials, Gay placed second to Gatlin, with Gay running 9.86 to Gatlin’s 9.80. On July 6, Gay won in AREVA Paris, 10.00, giving Gatlin his first defeat in 2012. On July 14, at the AVIVA London, Gatlin won in 10.03, with Ryan Bailey, the new American find, in 10.09.
London Olympics 100 meters, Game on!, photo by PhotoRun.net
Asafa Powell, 5th in the 100 meters in 2004 Athens, 5th in the 2008 Beijing, as well as being on the gold medal in the 2008 relay. Always dangerous, Asafa Powell has the most sub ten second 100 meter runs of anyone alive, with 79 or 80, depending if you count rounds. In the semi-final, Asafa Powell ran 9.94.
So, what I am trying to say, this field was stacked. Churandy Martina, from the Netherlands, ran 9.91 NR in his semi-final. Richard Thompson, from Trinidad, a tough sprinter who has the Olympic and World Champs hardware to boot, was in the final as well.
Usain Bolt said afterwards, ” When Yohan beat me twice in the Jamaican Trials that woke me up. I was nervous a bit, with my start, with my race. Then, in the semi-final, I ran well and my coach told me to relax. Stop Worrying. He told me not to worry about how fast Justin would start.”
” In the final, I had an okay start, but I relaxed and was up with the guys soon. I then thought about the world record, looked up at the clock, but it was too late. I also thought about (laughing), what I did in Beijing, and I did not.”
The race was as Usain said. Justin Gatlin got out very fast, as did Asafa Powell and Yohan Blake. Tyson Gay was moving well, so that, by fifty meters, Gatlin, Gay, Blake and Powell were all there, with Bailey just a bit behind.
Usain Bolt got out okay, and moved well in the middle phase. By sixty meters, Bolt was in the mix, and he then took the six foot, six inches of his frame and galloped away. Blake, Gatlin and Gay had not made it easy for Bolt. Look at the pictures, he was fighting the entire way, and he called on that fourth gear to take it home!
Usain Bolt, at ninety percent, was racing again, and he ran through the finish tape. He earned this race, and in that, he earned the respect and admiration of his competitors. Not that he had not had it before. Usain Bolt in 2012 is a more mature, still fun loving, but knowing that no one gives him any slack. And that is good for the sport. London 2012 was a race, in the past, it has been a bit of a time trial.
Usain Bolt did not just gallop away, he ran 9.63, a new Olympic record!
Yohan Blake fought hard, to take second, tying his best of 9.75. Justin Gatlin went by Tyson Gay, as both were in medal contention until the very end. Gatlin ran 9.79, his PB. Tyson Gay took fourth and ran 9.80. Ryan Bailey, the new find, who ran 9.88 in the heats, finished fifth, running 9.88 once again, tying his new PB. Churandy Martina ran 9.94 for sixth. Richard Thompson ran 9.98.
Asafa Powell was in the mix until 50 meters, looking to
be in the medal fight. He caught a cramp and ended last, in 11.99.
Usain Bolt began celebrating with the fans. Showing a more mature, but still fun loving side, Gay stopped an interview while the American anthem was being played.
Usain Bolt enjoyed his fans as much as they enjoyed him. The pressure was off. The most popular athlete in track & field had delivered, winning the most difficult 100 meter field of contemporary sprinters imaginable. And he not only beat them, he set an Olympic record of 9.63. The only person who has run faster is Bolt, when he ran the current WR of 9.58 in Berlin in 2009!
Yohan Blake and Usain Bolt enjoyed their press conference, which was utter bedlam afterwards. Questions that were asked just to ask Bolt a question were tolerated as Bolt and Blake played around a bit.
Bolt also had nothing but praise for his competitors, as did they for him. Usain noted that he was so impressed with Tyson Gay running so well after his injuries. ” I know that Tyson Gay will be back next year, going for a medal. That he made the final and finished fourth, is, amazing.”
Bolt also joked about staying on til Rio. ” Blake will be older too then.” smiled Usain Bolt, who gave Blake street cred and still beat him in the race. It does not seem that Bolt likes Gatlin, perhaps like is the wrong word. While Gatlin noted that Bolt was the best sprinter of the day, they remain distant and from two different eras. Perhaps, for Justin Gatlin, he sees what could have been, which was forever lost in his four year suspension. But Gatlin holds his head up high, seeing that he paid his dues, and he has to endure the comments about his past. For Gatlin, he must let his feet do his talking, be patient and know that he is back in the world he loves.
Usain Bolt showed on Sunday night, that 80,000 fans in a track stadium will happen on occasions when the events live up to the hype. On Sunday night, 5 August 2012, the 100 meters did just that. On 5 August 2012, the 100 meters included the past, present, and future of the sprints.
After Bolt ran so well in the 100 meters, answering both critics and fans, one dares to consider how fast he could run over 200 meters in London. The only limits will be the coolness in the air and his competition.
For Usain Bolt, competition is good, it brings out the best in him. ” I can not celebrate tonight, as I have the 200 meters coming up.”
Usain Bolt has now joined only Archie Hahn and Carl Lewis as sprinters who defended Olympic titles. He has made history once again, and as he dreamed, he is a legend.
Men’s 100m: 1. Usain Bolt, JAM, 9.63 OR, 2.Yohan Blake, JAM, 9.75=PB, 3. Justin Gatlin, US, 9.79 PB, 4. Tyson Gay, US, 9.80SB, 5.Ryan Bailey, US, 9.88, =PB, 6.Churandy Martina, NED, 9.94, 7. Richard Thompson, TRI, 9.98, 8. Asafa Powell, JAM, 11.99, #london2012, #olympics, #100 meters