Bolt: still fastest man alive
TRAFFIC came to a standstill and thousands stood in muddy puddles after a heavy storm, but Usain Bolt had won so it was time to party.
The national green and yellow colours dominated streets as people poured out to watch the Rio Olympics 100m on giant screens.
It was cool and there was a slight drizzle, but nothing could put a damper on the island’s festivities.
As Bolt struck his familiar lightning pose, Jamaicans blew whistles and horns and banged metal pot covers.
They gathered in towns centres like Half Way Tree in Kingston, Sam Sharpe Square in Montego Bay and Falmouth, near where Bolt was born and developed as a runner into the global star.
Traffic halted in Sam Sharpe Square with spectators standing in puddles of water left from a heavy afternoon shower – without even seeming to notice – as they stretched to see a giant screen on the side of a building.
“The greatest ever,” said one man, who gave his name as Charlie. “He is the best. He can’t stop running now. He must go on.”
Strangers hugged and celebrated and not a single person admitted they had any doubts he would win.
But there was a collective gasp as he came out of the blocks behind American rival Justin Gatlin. By the time Bolt had caught the field at the midpoint, the cheering had started and by the time he crossed the line, the party was in full swing.
“Jamaica is the land of speed. We have the fastest man and woman in the world,” Shiela Paul said. “We are going to win the two 200m and the two relays as well.”
Quest to become ‘immortal’ “Somebody said I can become immortal. Two more medals to go and I can sign off. Immortal,” said Bolt, who has said this will be his last Olympics.
Bolt said he had been “shocked” at booing directed at Gatlin, who has twiced been banned for doping, but insisted he had focused on the victory that left him out alone in the 120-year history of Olympic sprinting.
Although his 9.81 was way short of his 9.58sec world record, Bolt said he felt happy with the performance.
He started slowly but reeled in the fast-starting Gatlin within 70 metres and eased up, thumping his chest as he crossed the line. Canada’s Andre de Grasse took bronze.
“It was brilliant. I didn’t go so fast but I’m so happy I won,” he said.
Minutes earlier, van Niekerk timed a lightning 43.03sec in the 400m, breaking American Michael Johnson’s 17-year-old record.
“I have never seen anything like that,” Johnson told the BBC. “It is amazing. That was a massacre by Van Niekerk.” –
For the third Olympics in a row, Jamaica’s Usain Bolt won the 100m race in Rio. At right: After trailing fast-starting American Justin Gatlin off the blocks, Bolt pulled even at the 70m mark and finished alone in first.