LONDON -- These are Usain Bolt’s Olympic Games. Everyone else here is simply running, jumping, swimming, cycling and rowing in his happy wake.
Relaxed enough to drape a comforting arm around the jittery volunteer responsible for collecting his gear at the start line and cheeky enough to give a stiff-wristed royal wave as he was introduced to the Olympic Stadium crowd, Bolt completed a golden grand slam by becoming the first man to win the 100- and 200-meter titles in successive Olympics.
“I am now a living legend,” he said, and few would argue.
Bolt avenged his losses to teammate Yohan Blake atJamaica’sOlympic trials by winning the 200 Thursday in 19.32 seconds, despite relaxing over the last 15 meters and putting his left index finger to his lips as if to hush skeptics who predicted he would take an Olympian fall.
“A lot of people doubted me, but in my mind there wasn’t any doubt. I was really confident in myself,” he said. “I knew I could do it, so it wasn’t a problem.
“All those people can stop talking now because I am a legend.”
He’s also a showman. Bolt, who won the 100 last week in a sizzling 9.63 seconds, ambled onto the track Thursday wearing a ballcap backward and mugging for the cameras. After he calmed the nervous volunteer in his lane, he whispered something to Warren Weir, the other Jamaican in the final.
What did he say?
“One, two, three,” Weir said, smiling.
And so it was.
After Bolt came Blake, in a season-best 19.44 seconds, and Weir in a personal-best 19.84 seconds. Wallace Spearmon of the U.S. couldn’t keep up despite running a season-best 19.90. “Those guys are on another planet right now,” a disconsolate Spearmon said after finishing fourth.
Bolt, prone to leg problems related to a congenital spine condition, had a plan to protect his back Thursday by navigating the turn as cleanly as possible.
“That was the key thing for my race,” he said. “It really put a lot of strain on my back, so when I came out of the straight all I wanted to do was stay in front of Yohan Blake. I didn’t want to put too much stress on myself if something went wrong. So I really took it easy because at the end of the race I slowed up.”
That meant he had enough strength left to drop to the track and do a few pushups. “A friend said to do it because it would look good on TV,” he said.
So did he. And it did.
“I’d like to say to all my fans out there, thanks for the support,” he said. “And to all my doubters, thank you very much because you guys have also pushed me.”
It took a star with Bolt’s megawatt power to overshadow an assortment of exceptional performances.
David Rudisha of Kenya broke his own world record in the 800, running a seemingly effortless race to pull the field into his orbit and win in 1 minute 40.91 seconds. Duane Solomon of Rosemead finished fourth in 1:42.82 and Nick Symmonds of Springfield, Ore., was fifth in 1:42.95 to put them second and third on the U.S. all-time list.
In addition, U.S. athletes went 1-2 in the decathlon and the triple jump, feats with historic overtones.
Ashton Eaton of Eugene, Ore., amassed 8,863 points and Trey Hardee of Austin, Texas., collected 8,671 to become the fifth U.S. duo to win decathlon gold and silver in the same Games, the first since 1956.
Will Claye of Imperial Beach, Calif., added a silver medal in the triple jump to the bronze he won in the long jump, becoming the first American man and first man from any country since 1936 to win medals in both jumps at one Olympics. Christian Taylor of Daytona Beach, Fla., won gold in the triple jump with a leap of 58 feet 5 1/4 inches, to Claye’s 57- 9 3/4.
“We’ve been going 1-2 since college, and now on the biggest stage,” Claye said.
But the brightest star on the Olympic stage was Bolt. Asked what being a legend means, he didn’t hesitate.
“The greatest ever. People remember you no matter what happens,” he said. “You’ll always be in the history book. I’m so happy right now.”
Alysia Johnson Montano of Canyon Country advanced to the women’s 800 final, but Alice Schmidt of Coronado (2:01.63) and Geena Gall (2:05.76) did not.... Five-time Olympian Amy Acuff was eliminated in high jump qualifying after she missed three times at 6-2 3/4. Chaunte Lowe, a Riverside native who resides in Georgia, had no misses in four jumps and cleared 6-4 to advance. Brigetta Barrett of the University of Arizona cleared 6-4 with one miss. “The performance was a disaster,” said Acuff, 37…. A U.S. women’s 400-meter relay team of Tianna Madison, Jeneba Tarmoh, Bianca Knight and Lauryn Williams qualified first for the final with a time of 41.64. Allyson Felix and Carmelita Jeter are scheduled to run in the final.