Feature18 Aug 2013

Lightning Bolt strikes three times in 200m


Usain Bolt in the mens 200m at the IAAF World Athletics Championships Moscow 2013 (© Getty Images)

Last Sunday, for the 100m final, there was thunder and lightning in the air.

For the 200m final on Saturday, under clear blue skies at a near capacity Luzhniki Stadium, there was just the electricity created by the fastest and most charismatic athlete in world sport.

During the heat and semi final Usain Bolt laughed, yawned, even held hands with his competitors, but come the final the long-legged Jamaican was all business. 

Speeding around the bend, he left a vapour trail as he entered the straight a good three metres clear of team mate Warren Weir.

Given he recorded the slowest winning times in both the heat and the semi final it’s perhaps no surprise that the afterburners ran dry with 30 metres remaining. Fading slightly as he tired, Bolt had more than enough momentum to cross the line in 19.66.

It was the slowest of his two Olympic and now three World 200m title wins, and almost anti-climactic by the exalted standards of Bolt but, as he said, he couldn’t care if he won in 20 seconds flat.

“I’m all about winning championships so it’s not just about times. I try to run fast always because I know that fans want fast times, but if I can run 20 flat to win the 200m in the championships, I’m ok with it.  It’s all about winning the gold medals,” commented Bolt.

Still, it was the fastest time in the world this year, bettering his 19.73 at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Paris.

So dominant has he been in Moscow that perhaps the only potential impediment to him winning a third consecutive 200m IAAF World Championships title was Bolt himself, after dropping a starting block on his foot earlier in the week.

Despite some pain, it seemed to make no difference.

More history created

In Olympia, at the home of the ancient Olympic Games, the Temple of Zeus is dedicated to the chief of the Gods.

If such an edifice was built today, it would house Usain Bolt.

With this win Usain Bolt created history in so many ways. 

He became the first athlete to win a third World 200m title, consecutively at that. In doing so he charged past the American pair of Michael Johnson and Calvin Smith who both won the event twice.

He became the first man to win the 100m and 200m double on two occasions.

He takes his tally of individual World Championship gold medals to five, joining Carl Lewis and Kenenisa Bekele. He’s now just one behind Michael Johnson and Sergey Bubka.

This was also his fourth medal over 200m, his three wins adding to the silver he won behind Tyson Gay in Osaka 2007.  It’s a feat that matches Frankie Fredericks, who won gold and three silvers between 1991 and 1997.

Add his two 4x100m relay wins and Bolt now moves to seven World titles and with the short relay still to come he can join Alison Felix, Carl Lewis and Michael Johnson who, including relays, have all won eight World Championships gold medals.

From the time athletics fans first saw a super-skinny 15 year-old win the IAAF World Junior Championships 200m title in front of a home crowd in Kingston 11 years ago, no one doubted that Usain St. Leo Bolt had the capacity to be a groundbreaker.

However, not even the most enthusiastic of soothsayers could have predicted the ride since making the 200m final in Helsinki as 19-year-old. 

Unbeaten in finals since Osaka, aside from the false start in the Daegu 2011 100m final, Olympic 100m and 200m gold medals in world records in Beijing, a repeat performance to win his first world titles in Berlin four years ago, defending the Olympic crowns in London and now another 100m and 200m double in Moscow.

It’s a body of sprint work never before accomplished.

Still time for more

Usain Bolt turns 27 next week, which is is a bit scary for those behind him who are hoping for a decline. In sprinting terms he is still young.

He says there is more to achieve. First up is a shot at a fourth triple gold at a major championship when he returns to the track for the relay on the final day of these Championships on Sunday.

There are then some more meets to finish off the season before turning attention to 2014.

“I’m driven by greatness.  I want to be one of the greatest in the sport,” Bolt repeated.

“My next big goal is to go to the Olympics and do something that has never been done before and that’s to win the 100 and 200 again.”

“My main aim next season is to try very hard not to get injured,” which means he and coach Glen Mills have ruled out at any attempts at the Long Jump, despite various athletics luminaries including World record holder Mike Powell, encouraging him to try it.

The much publicised clash for charity with Mo Farah over a suitable distance, probably 600m, is also not yet scheduled into his program but he confirmed that even though the details have not be fleshed out, it was far from a wild flight of fantasy.

‘We haven’t really confirmed if that’s going to happen. I guess we have the same agent so we’ll talk about it and see if it makes sense, what distance, but it’s not confirmed, it will probably be next season if it’s going to happen.”

David Culbert for the IAAF

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