Jamaica Gleaner / RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil:
Will we ever see a more dominant track and field athlete in the Olympic Games? Will we ever see another so capable of capturing the world’s imagination?
There can be no doubt that Usain Bolt is the greatest track and field athlete this world has ever seen, and, last night, the world watched as he won his ninth Olympic gold medal to secure a third consecutive triple gold-medal performance at the Olympic Games.
It has never been done before.
His nine gold medals take him to the top of the list of Olympic track and field athletes, and he signs off an Olympic career unlike any before.
He needed his friends this time.
Helped by his teammates in the men’s 4x100m final, Usain Bolt added to his Rio 2016 100m and 200m gold medals, anchoring the Jamaicans to a commanding win inside the Olympic Stadium.
The Jamaicans secured their seventh straight 4x100m gold medal at a major championship, clocking 37.27 seconds.
Asafa Powell – like he did in 2008 – promised Bolt that he would help him to another triple gold-medal performance here. He wasn’t lying.
Powell was out of the starting blocks in a hurry before making a clean exchange to Yohan Blake on the backstretch. Jamaica had the advantage.
Blake versus Justin Gatlin. Blake won.
It was Nickel Ashmeade’s turn, with Tyson Gay breathing down his neck. It looked like an even run.
The only thing that stood between Bolt and Olympic track and field immortality was a clean exchange. Bingo! Baton in hand, Bolt left nothing to chance.
There was no chain in the mouth like we saw in Athens 2004. There was no Beijing 2008-style beating of the chest. There was no London 2012 wagging of the finger.
But the familiar sight of the big man leading the rest to the finish line brought the stadium to its feet and drew, no doubt, collective applause from around the world.
MIXED FEELINGS After the race, Bolt, who has said this will be his last Olympics, told The Gleaner : “I have mixed feelings. I feel relief because of all the stress I’ve been through over the years, but I’m going to miss the competition. This is what I live for.”
In the end, the US battle didn’t matter at all, with the Americans getting disqualified, yet again, this time for a baton-exchange violation, resulting in Japan finishing second in 37.50 and Canada getting the bronze in 37.64.
As Bolt huffed and puffed his way down the Mondo track, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Christania Williams and Elaine Thompson watched on and screamed excitedly.
They had just won Jamaica’s fifth medal in the women’s 4x100m, but they all knew just what this meant for their countryman and their nation.
Fraser-Pryce took on anchor duty and, try as she did, there was no stopping the Americans, who ran away with the gold medal in 41.01, with their team of Tianna Bartoletta, Allyson Felix, English Gardner, and Tori Bowie posting what was the second-fastest time in Olympic history.
The Jamaicans, who had to recover from a shaky first exchange between Williams and Thompson, etched their name in the number three spot of all time with a 41.36 silver-medal effort. Great Britain and Northern Ireland ran a national record 41.77 for third place.
“Tonight, we wanted Elaine (Thompson) to get the third gold medal, but (this was) God’s will and we have to give God thanks. We finished healthy, and, for us, it’s an honour to come together and represent the country as a team,” said Fraser-Pryce.
“We did our best. We were going for the gold. We fell short, but we will be going for it again. We never give up. We will go for it again next year,” added Campbell-Brown.
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