Blue riband sprint title goes to reigning champion Usain Bolt with an Olympic record of 9.63
Usain Bolt defended his Olympic 100 metres title with a dominant piece of running in London. With the second-fastest time in history of 9.63, the 25-year-old Jamaican beat his training partner and world champion Yohan Blake by 12 hundredths of a second with Justin Gatlin of the United States a further four hundredths back in third as the first seven broke 10 seconds.
Bolt’s time – an Olympic record – was helped by a tailwind of 1.5m/sec and was quicker than the 9.69 he ran to win in Beijing four years ago but second only to his world record of 9.58 from Berlin in 2009.
“I was slightly worried about my start,” he said. “I didn’t want to false start again. So I think I sat in the blocks a bit.
“My coach said ‘don’t worry about the start. The best part of your race is the start’. So I didn’t worry about it and I executed it so it worked.”
Blake said: “He’s the fastest man in the world and to get a silver medal in my first Olympics – what else can I ask?”
Tyson Gay of the United States ran a blistering 9.80 but was outside the medals, while fellow American Ryan Bailey was fifth in 9.88, Churandy Martina of Netherlands sixth with 9.94, Richard Thompson seventh in 9.98 and Asafa Powell of Jamaica trotting home a disappointed last in 11.99.
Bolt’s form had been in question in the run-up to the Games. He was beaten by Blake over 100m and 200m at the Jamaican Championships and was suffering from a minor injury niggle.
But he put this behind him during a thrilling final on Saturday night. With his trademark mid-race surge he blew his rivals away and then delighted the crowd with his lightning poses.
Racing on the third night of the track and field programme, the 80,000 capacity Olympic Stadium was busting at the seams for the blue riband event of the Games. Here were the heavyweights of athletics, the rock stars of the Olympics, the ultimate gladiators of global sport – and it was a final that everyone wanted to watch. Nay, had to watch and a global television audience of more than a billion people.
London could not provide the kind of sweaty, warm conditions that sprinters usually love, though. Instead it was a cool 17C at 9:50pm in the UK – a contrast to the heat of Beijing in 2008 and Athens in 2004.
Before the final, the bookmakers had Bolt as favourite with the following odds: 1/4 Bolt; 3/1 Blake; 14/1 R Bailey; 16/1 Gatlin; 25/1 Gay; 50/1 Powell. This was based on semi-final results that saw Gatlin win the first semi-final in 9.82 with Powell only third; Bolt took the second semi in 9.87 looking relaxed and shutting down metres; while Blake took the final semi in 9.85 with Gay second in 9.90.
The British challenge finished at the semi-final stage. Dwain Chambers, who was drawn next to Bolt, clocked 10.05 in fourth – just ahead of former English Schools champion Gerald Phiri, who now competes for Zambia.
World junior champion Adam Gemili again performed superbly but his 10.06 in Blake’s heat was not quite good enough as he finished third. James Dasaolu completed the GB trio as he finished seventh in Gatlin’s semi-final with 10.18.