LONDON, England — After saying for the past year or so that he is chasing legendary status, Jamaica's Usain Bolt has firmly etched his name in the annals of sports, not just track and field, after his magnificent display at Olympic Park in Stratford, east London last night.
Running a brilliant curve, he overtook the field after the first 10m, then galloped away, chased by his heir apparent Yohan Blake to a 19.32-second clocking, just off his Olympic record 19.30 seconds, and into the history books.
“I am the greatest ever!” he told reporters who waited long after the race for him to show up. “I am a legend, I have achieved my goals and I am now in the history books.”
The first man to defend an Olympic sprint double, winning the 100m/200m here a year after becoming the first man to defend an IAAF World Championships 200m title, is the stuff legends are made of.
Add that to the three fastest times ever in the 100m, including the Olympic record 9.63 seconds he ran on Sunday night, that last gigantic stride, the 41st of the race to take him across the line, taking him that one step closer to invincibility.
Factor in seven of the fastest 200m times ever, along with titles at every level on the IAAF rung and everything in between and you have the blueprint for what makes a legend.
Bolt now has four individual Olympic gold medals in his medal cabinet, along with three World Championships gold and a silver to go with five world records and three Olympic records.
His failure to win back-to-back World Championships 100m title after his now infamous disqualification after falsestarting in Daegu might be the thing that keeps him going, as he certainly will need more than one title on his résumé.
Despite doubts that surrounded him for the first time in his brilliant career as he came into the XXX Olympiad on the back of double losses to training partner Yohan Blake at the National Trials in late June, Bolt has put himself up there in the pantheons of the greatest, just below the 'Gods' such as Mohammed Ali, but there is still time for that, as he is only 25 years old.
Very few track and field athletes have had the cross-over power as Bolt, though a few have tried.
Like very few athletes Usain St Leo Bolt has captured the attention and imagination of not just the sporting public, but also those outside of sports, as well as his fellow athletes, even world-class ones who one would have thought were used to seeing superstars in their presence.
The boy, who almost gave it all up when he had to be coaxed by his parents to compete at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Kingston in 2002, has changed the face of track and field not just with his talent and fast feet, but by his pre-race antics that has now been copied by almost every sprinter.
He is not looking too far ahead, he said, but it is a certainty he has his eyes on retaining his 100m title next year at the World Championships in Moscow, Russia, and when one reporter asked “how about a triple double?”, he laughed as said by then he would be pushing 30 years old and Blake would be 26 years old and in his prime.
He is not even talking about retirement, however, as he said now that he has achieved his goals it was time to make new goals to shoot for.
His losses to Blake in June, he said, had spurred him into action and made him realise he had work to do if he was going to continue on his road to becoming the legend that he yearned to be.