LONDON, England — Mission accomplished. Usain Bolt came into the 27th Olympics Games with one aim, to become the first man in track history to win back-to-back sprint double, and he accomplished the feat last night at Olympic Stadium in Stratford, London, running a season's best 19.32 seconds to lead a sweep of the medals for Jamaica.
Yohan Blake also ran a season's best 19.44 seconds for his second silver of the Games, while Warren Weir, ran a brilliant final 60m to hold off American Wallace Spearmon for third in a massive personal best 19.84 seconds, shopping off 0.15 seconds off his previous personal best of 19.99 seconds set earlier this year.
Bolt’s 19.32 is tied for fourth best of all time with Michael Johnson, the former world record holder.
It was the first clean sweep of the Olympic men's 200m medals by any country other than the United States, seventh overall and first since 2004 in Athens, Greece.
The medal swelled Jamaica's tally to nine — three of each colour, to leap to second in track and field behind the USA and 17th overall. Jamaica remain on track to surpass the 11 medals won in Beijing four years ago.
“There was no doubt,” Bolt said later. “After the 100m I knew I couldn't lose …and now I am a legend.”
The anticipation had built all day long and as the seats filled up, large Jamaican flags could be seen all over the stadium, and as the athletes lined up at the starting blocks, flashes from cameras went off like fireflies on a dark night in deep rural Jamaica all around the jam-packed 80,000-seat venue.
As the race started, Bolt made up the stagger on the field after the first five strides or so and came off the curve well ahead of Blake, who made a surge at 140m, but Bolt was too strong then, before slowing down to cross the finish line with his left index finger to his lips as the crowd erupted in celebration.
He said the finger to his lips was a signal to his doubters to stop talking. “I achieved my goals and it is time to set new goals,” he said ominously.
Earlier in the evening the stage was set by a magnificent performance in the men's 800m final, as Kenya's David Rudisha, who smashed his own world record, running one minute, 40.91 seconds in the greatest 800m race ever, as with three other national records, four personal bests and one season best.
Second placed Nijel Amos of Botswana ran a world junior record one minute, 41.73 seconds.
The medals ceremony and dozens of interview complete, Bolt, who will rest for the first round of the 4x100m relays today, said he was now “the greatest ever in history. I will be in the books and I am really happy.”
The key to his victory, he said, was “to run the corner very hard and once I got into the straight to stay in front of Blake”.
He did some pushups after the race and explained to the journalists that he did them on the suggestions of friends who told him it would look good on television.
“It is my time now,” he crowed. “I told Blake that his time will come, but this is my time,” he added, noting that he told teammate Weir before the race “not to try and run the race too fast, just to relax and keep your technique”.
Blake, who deejayed a verse of the Popcaan song Dream before one of his interviews, admitted that Bolt “got away at the start” and while he made a late surge, the race was over before he could catch Bolt. However, he noted that there would be more races later this season.
Weir was thankful “for playing my part in creating history for Jamaica”, and he said he was “overwhelmed and feeling excellent”.
The former 110m hurdler, who was a semifinalist at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Poland in 2008, thanked coach Glen Mills for getting him to this stage of his career. “Your vision, your vision, your vision, your vision paid off,” he said, before adding that he was hesitant when the sprint guru first approached him with the idea of transforming him into a sprinter. “I thought I wasn't that fast.”
Weir said before the race Bolt told them “1-2-3”, and he added that running in lane eight he was running “blind” for the first part of the race. “It was all tunnel vision,” but said he saw Bolt out of the corner of his eyes.