Beijing 2008 – Stunning Bolt destroys field in 100m
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The 21-year-old Bolt won his country’s first Olympic title in the blue riband event and capped an astonishing rise to the top of his sport. His former world record was 9.72 seconds.
“I came here just to win, that was my aim,” Bolt told the BBC. “I didn’t even know I’d won the record till I did my victory lap.
“I am just focusing on the 200 metres now. I came here prepared and I’m going to do it.”
Jamaican Asafa Powell, whose world mark Bolt bettered with a run of 9.72 in May, once again failed to deliver on the big stage and finished fifth.
“I messed up big time,” he said. “My legs died on me. Usain ran an awesome race. I’m very happy for him.
“I really wanted to get that gold medal but it’s just obvious I wasn’t ready for it yet.”
World champion Tyson Gay of the US did not even make the final, finishing fifth in his semi to end hopes of a showdown between the three fastest men ever.
Bolt, a 200 metres specialist who had run only one professional race in the shorter distance before this year, will now turn his attention to becoming the first man since Carl Lewis in 1984 to win the Olympic sprint double.
Anxious to avoid the tougher training regime of the 400 metres, Bolt reached an agreement with his coach last year that if he broke the Jamaican 200m record he would be allowed to try the 100.
The reggae-loving Bolt duly delivered and ran an impressive 10.03 seconds in his first outing in Greece in July last year.
The 6’5″ world 200m silver medallist picked up where he left off with an identical time in his first outing of 2008 but his third run in Kingston was simply remarkable.
His time of 9.76 was then the second fastest in history and his coach Glen Mills reckoned he could have broken Powell’s record of 9.74 had he not turned to check on his rivals towards the end.
Better was yet to come. In New York on the last day of May, Bolt, who because of his height sometimes struggles with his start, got off to a flyer and thundered down the track in 9.72 seconds. Jamaica had a new world record holder.
Since then, he has oozed confidence and looked to be running well within himself as he stormed through the first two rounds of heats in Beijing.
A keen cricketer before he turned to athletics, Bolt first announced his talent when he became the youngest world junior champion by winning the 200m in Kingston in 2002 at the age of 15.
Now, he will be remembered as the man who brought the first 100m gold to his island, which in Linford Christie, Donovan Bailey and the now disgraced Ben Johnson had produced three Olympic 100 metres champions for other countries.
Briton Tyrone Edgar finished seventh in the first semi-final of the men’s 100 and failed to progress to the final.
Evolution of the men’s 100 metres world record after Jamaica’s Usain Bolt ran 9.69 seconds in the Olympic final in Beijing – (tabulate under – time, name, nationality, date).
10.6 seconds Donald Lippincott (US) 6.7.1912
10.4 Charles Paddock (US) 23.4.21
10.3 Percy Williams (Canada) 9.8.30
10.2 Jesse Owens (US) 20.6.36
10.1 Willie Williams (US) 3.8.56
10.0 Armin Hary (West Germany) 21.6.60
9.95 Jim Hines (US) 14.10.68
9.93 Calvin Smith (US) 3.7.83
9.92 Carl Lewis (US) 24.9.88
9.90 Leroy Burrell (US) 14.6.91
9.86 Lewis 25.8.91
9.85 Burrell 6.7.94
9.84 Donovan Bailey (Canada) 27.7.96
9.79 Maurice Greene (US) 16.6.99
9.77 Asafa Powell (Jamaica) 14.6.2005
9.74 Powell 9.9.07
9.72 Usain Bolt (Jamaica) 31.5.08
9.69 Bolt (Jamaica) 16.8.08