|Bolt gives his patented shush to the crowd, perhaps to his doubters, as he wins his second straight 200 gold. (US Presswire)|
The first and only ever to win the 200-meter title in two Olympics. That's Usain Bolt.
The first and only ever to win back-to-back golds in the 100 and the 200. That's Bolt.
There is Bolt and only Bolt. He stands alone in track history, the greatest sprinter our species has ever known.
Bolt's 19.32 run Thursday night in the 200-meter final was two one-hundredths of a second shy of the Olympic record, a record he would've broken had he not let up in the final 10 meters. Yes, another ridiculous run by Bolt ended with him dropping his arms and cruising past the finish, not a rival in his peripheral vision.
"It's what I came here to do. I'm now a legend. I'm also the greatest athlete to live," Bolt told reporters afterward.
Just once, wouldn't it be great to see Bolt power through to the end, to shatter another record and see what untouched depths he's truly capable of? We've seen a lot of it, sure, as he's broken countless records -- six of the 10 best 200 times in history belong to him -- but if he's not sprinting through to the end now ... then when?
Perhaps when he's legitimately threatened. Maybe that's four years from now, in Rio. Maybe Yohan Blake will take the title from him then. Or threaten, just as it was thought he'd threaten in London. But that wasn't the case, not at all. Blake, the defending world champion in the 200 (primarily due to false starts and a back injury for Bolt), cruised in lane 4 and got his easy silver with a 19.44-second run. In fact, the Jamaicans swept the medals, as Warren Weir took third (19.84). American Wallace Spearmon finished fourth in 19.90.
Bolt, running in lane 7, got off to a terrific start, and by the time he curled around the bend, he had a three-step lead on Blake. Blake's got tremendously scary closing speed -- against everyone but the best ever.
"I could feel a little bit of pain in my back," Bolt said to the BBC after the race, referring to hs final 50 meters.
From the start, the other six runners in this race were galloping for bronze. Weir wound up with it, which makes for a very proud moment for Jamaica.
Bolt and Asafa Powell lifted up their country's dominance in sprinting in Beijing four years ago, but this 200-meter sweep carries even more meaning. The Jamaicans are dominating sprinting in a way few other countries lord over specific Olympic events. (Like the U.S. in basketball, for instance.)
For Bolt, it's happiness and just a tinge of personal disappointment. He really wanted to eclipse is world-record run of 19.19, set in Berlin at the World Championships three years ago. He promised he'd do it before the start of these Games.
"I really wanted to try to get the world record in the 200 meters," said Bolt, "but for me, I'm happy."
As are Olympic fans everywhere. Rare has one athlete been so good, so dominant and such a showman. It would take you longer to list off the ways Bolt is great than it would for him to run another 200 right now. The world hasn't seen anything like him before. The best ever, something now that seems bigger than legend.