Usain Bolt surged to glory in the final of the men’s 200 meters to complete an unprecedented third Olympic sprint double and move one step away from a unique “triple-triple” of Olympic gold. Winner of the 100m for a third successive Olympics on Sunday, Bolt became the first man to complete a 200m treble, winning by a distance over the rest of the field at Rio's Olympic Stadium on Thursday.
Bolt streaked home with a time of 19.79, ahead of Andre De Grasse, third behind Bolt over 100m, who claimed silver in 20.02 and Frenchman Christophe Lemaitre who secured bronze in 20.12.
Yet, such is Bolt's superiority over 200m, that his first reaction after crossing the line was not elation at the further history he had just made but visible frustration that he didn't set a faster time and failed to break his own 19.19 world record.
"I'm always happy for the win but I wanted a faster time," he told NBC afterward.
Since claiming a hat-trick of sprint gold at the 2008 Olympics, Bolt has not lost a single major championship final over 200m. And he was never in danger of doing so on Thursday night. Canadian De Grasse had enjoyed an exchange of smiles with Bolt as he pushed him all the way in the semifinals. But come the serious business of the final, the Jamaican was in a league of his own.
In the event he has always described as his favorite, Bolt showed why it is the 200m he was born to run by blowing his competition away. As he came off the bend into the final straight, his competition had already been reduced to scrapping for silver and bronze. Bolt's contest was with the clock alone.
In contrast to his usual showmanship before the line, this time Bolt strained every sinew of his body all the way. But, perhaps hampered by the rain that began to fall on Rio's Olympic Stadium just ahead of the final, the record would not fall.
Bolt had made clear in Rio that his ambition was to become the first man to go under the elusive 19-second barrier. The disappointment that he failed to do so will be particularly keenly felt given that this may well have been his last chance to so do at a major championship. After his semifinal win on Wednesday, the 29-year-old stated that he planned to only run the 100m at next year’s World Championships in London.
And in explaining his regret at not setting a new record, Bolt hinted at the strain the sprint double was now taking on his body, while subtlety also making clear how little competition he faced.
"I felt good, but when i came into the straight my body wouldn't respond to me, so i guess its just age and all the rounds taking their toll," he added.
"I wanted to run faster, I really wanted to go faster, I came out with that mindset. I think it would have helped it I had somebody faster in front of me to really pull me to run the corner a bit faster. But I came into the straight, I tired, but my body really would not respond to me. It’s just one of those things, but I'm happy."
Bolt has also said that he plans on Rio being his last Olympics. If that does prove accurate, then he is leaving right at the very top. To put his achievements into perspective, when he exploded to global superstardom eight years ago, he became one of only nine men to win the famed sprint double of 100m and 200m gold. Nobody has ever won it twice, but Bolt has now accomplished the feat in a remarkable three straight Olympic Games.
Not only has he cemented his legacy as the greatest sprinter of all time, but, with eight gold medals in total, he has put himself firmly into the conversation over the greatest Olympians of all time. Just the 4x100m relay remains on Friday night for Bolt to depart the Olympics, if Rio is indeed his farewell, with a perfect nine for nine.