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Dublin: 12°C Tuesday 18 May 2021

Bolt reigns supreme! Sprint king retains 200m crown in Olympic farewell

Bolt wins third straight 200m title, beating rising star Andre de Grasse into second.

Bolt: "I am not as young and fresh but I am excited I got the gold."
Image: PA Wire/Press Association Images

– Niall Kelly reports from the Olympic Stadium, Rio de Janeiro

THE FASTEST MAN on the planet is bowing out on his own terms.

Three days shy of his 30th birthday, Usain Bolt retained his Olympic 200m title and wrapped up the second part of his historic triple-triple bid.

All that’s left now is to win a third successive 4x100m title with his Jamaican team-mates on Friday night, and exit stage right.

In his last individual race at the Olympic Games, Bolt matched his best 200m effort of the season, winning in 19.78 seconds.

Canada’s Andre de Grasse, who took bronze in the 100m on Sunday night, was second in 20.02, cementing his place as the most likely heir to Bolt’s sprint throne.

France’s Christophe Lemaitre was third in 20.12 ahead of Britain’s Adam Gemili, who clocked the same time but was squeezed into fourth.

Usain Bolt on his way to winning Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Usain Bolt on his way to winning Source: James Crombie/INPHO

If there was any blemish on the night for Bolt, it was that he couldn’t get close to his world record time of 19.19.

“I really want it,” he said last week. “I really, really, really want that one.”

But it wasn’t to be. About 20 minutes before the runners took their place at the start line, the skies over Rio’s Olympic Stadium opened. Not quite the downpour that forced racing to be temporarily abandoned here on Monday, but enough to slicken the track slightly and put the hex on one final piece of history.

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This was effortless from Bolt in every sense. The only slight grimace came as he stretched out towards the line, straining for his record, but it didn’t take long for that to turn into a celebratory roar.

“It is something you work so hard for and when the moment comes you are happy and also relieved,” he told the BBC.

“The fact I came here and everything worked out it is a brilliant feeling.”

De Grasse, 21, who ran to within 0.02 seconds of Bolt to set a new Canadian record on Wednesday night, couldn’t quite scale those heights again.

In what will surely become one of the iconic images of these Games, cameras caught the two sharing a smile as they eased clear of the field in the semi-finals.

Rio Olympics Athletics Source: Matt Dunham

If this is the moment when sprinting’s torch is passed from one generation to the next, Bolt was determined to remind his successor who is boss. He warned that de Grasse might come to regret running so hard in the semis and that proved to be prophetic; the youngster’s final time of 20.02 was more than two-tenths of a second slower.

“I tried to go but there was nothing there,” he said.

Rio Olympics Athletics Source: David J. Phillip

A delighted Lemaitre finally claimed an individual Olympic medal to go with his 4x100m bronze from London.

He punched the air in delight as Bolt embarked on a final lap of honour, Bob Marley’s anthemic ‘One Love’ playing over the stadium PA, pausing alone at the finish line to strike his trademark pose one last time.

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About the author:

Niall Kelly

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