Bolt breaks 100-meter record, wins Olympic gold - 8/16/2008
Pure speed. It emanated from those loping, waist-high strides 6-foot-5 Usain Bolt churned with his golden spikes — untied lace and all — to win the 100-meter Olympic gold medal and break his own world record Saturday night.
It was there for all to see, too, in the "Is that really possible?!" gap of several feet between the Jamaican and the rest of the field at the finish. And, of course, in those bright, yellow numbers on the red-and-black trackside clock blaring the official time: 9.69 seconds.
It radiated from Usain Bolt's wide eyes as he playfully nudged an opponent during the prerace stroll through the stadium hallways, and, moments later, when he clowned with one of the volunteers at the start line before handing her his black backpack.
It was there for all to see, too, in his "How good am I?!" mugging for the cameras with about 20 meters to go, already certain victory was steps away — outstretched arms with palms up, slap to his chest while taking the last of his oh-so-long 41 strides, leaning back to enjoy the moment instead of leaning forward in effort. And in the arms-swaying dance moves he showed off as reggae music flowed from the loudspeakers to help him celebrate.
Oh, did he have a blast on this night, making obvious he is head-and-shoulders above the competition — and not merely because he really is head-and-shoulders above the competition, towering above foes in an event where no world record-holder over the last two decades has been this tall and where some didn't even reach 6 feet.
Those lanky legs allow Bolt to cover more ground, but his turnover for each stride also takes longer. He might just be turning the dash into a big man's event, though.
Bolt's sudden emergence truly began May 5 in Jamaica, when he ran 9.76 seconds, just shy of countryman Asafa Powell's then-record 9.74. This was someone to watch. Then, on May 31 in New York City, Bolt broke Powell's mark by finishing in 9.72.
Now that is gone, too, and Bolt's 0.20-second margin of victory matched the largest in an Olympic 100 final over the last 40 years.
"He's just a phenomenal athlete," said Trinidad and Tobago's Richard Thompson, the NCAA champion from LSU who won the silver by finishing in 9.89, "and I don't think anyone would have beaten him with a run like that today."
Certainly not. Bolt turned in as transcendent a show as Olympic track and field has seen in years, perhaps dating to Michael Johnson's world-record 19.32 seconds in the 200 meters at the 1996 Atlanta Games.
That mark could be next for Bolt, who considers the 200 his specialty. The heats for that event begin Monday, and the final is Wednesday, a day before his 22nd birthday.
"It definitely brings track back," said Walter Dix of the United States, the bronze medalist in 9.91.