Jamaica's Usain Bolt earned a double and claimed a record 10th gold medal with a convincing victory in the 200 meters on Thursday at the World Athletics Championships in Beijing, denying rival Justin Gatlin with a time of 19.55. Just as he did on Sunday in the 100 meters, Bolt finished ahead of the American to further solidify himself as the fastest man in the world.
Just one hundredth of a second had separated them in the 100m, but this time there was no contest. Bolt came round the bend in front and then surged away down the straight as Gatlin again lost his form in the closing meters. The American was left with the consolation of silver, in a time of 19.74, with South Africa’s Anaso Jobodwana taking bronze in a national record time of 19.87, a fraction ahead of Panama's Alonso Edward.
"I was coming here to prove I was number one," Bolt told Universal Sports afterward. "Justin Gatlin was saying he's ready to go and he’s going to do something special. For the 100 I don’t mind people talking a lot, but when it comes to my 200 I take it really personal so that’s the reason I celebrated across the line."
In a 200m event that he has repeatedly described as his favorite, Bolt had taken three consecutive world titles. But Gatlin had not been defeated in over two years, and coming in had by some distance the fastest time in the word this year, at 19.57. He was quickest in Wednesday’s semifinals at the Bird’s Nest, too, crossing the line in 19.87 to Bolt’s 19.95.
Yet, despite being in the form of his life, the 33-year-old, whose reputation has been tainted by a four-year suspension for doping, could not repeat his 200m gold in Helsinki a decade ago. Incredibly that was the only previous time that Bolt and Gatlin had gone head-to-head over 200m. The Jamaican, then aged just 18, came trailing round in last place on that occasion. But in the years since he has emerged as the greatest sprinter of all time.
And on Thursday Bolt further enshrined his legacy on a track where he remains unbeaten. Since storming to global superstardom at the same Bird’s Nest Stadium at the 2008 Olympics, Bolt’s only failure to win gold in a major global event was when being disqualified for false starting in the 100m final at the 2011 World Championships. Adding to his exhaustive list of achievements, he now becomes the first man to win four consecutive 200m world titles.
At the age of 29 and after a season heavily disrupted by injury, Bolt has shown there remains plenty of life left in him ahead of his attempts to complete a third consecutive sprint double in the Olympics in Rio next year. First, though, he will aim to make it gold number 11 at the World Championships when he is likely to go up against Gatlin for a third time in the 4x100m relay.