Usain Bolt, a six-time Olympic gold medalist from Jamaica, won his second 100-meter world title by avenging an early-season defeat to American Justin Gatlin on Sunday in rainy Moscow, but the victory came with little fanfare.
The usually ebullient Bolt struck his famous “Lighting Bolt” pose only after encouragement from the crowd. There was no high stepping to the finish line with arms spread wide or oh-my-gosh facial expressions.
Maybe it’s because Jamaican rival Asafa Powell and American Tyson Gay are serving suspensions for using performance-enhancing drugs. It could be the 26-year-old has matured and the satisfaction of a victory is now enough.
Or maybe it’s because he wants to be taken more seriously on the global stage, to be considered among the pantheon of great sportsmen.
“I want to set myself higher than the rest because I want to be among the greatest of all time and be discussed as someone great like Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali and Pele,” Bolt told reporters earlier this week in Moscow. “I want to be among these guys, and if I want to be that I have to keep pushing myself regardless of who I am facing so that when I retire I’ll be remembered among the greatest sportsmen.”
Gatlin, who defeated Bolt during a meet in Rome earlier this year, broke fast from the start Sunday to take the early lead. In typical Bolt style, he tracked down Gatlin and won the race in 9.77 seconds, well off his world-record mark of 9.58.
Gatlin finished second in 9.85; Nesta Carter of Jamaica was third in 9.95.