IF you challenge him, he will beat you to it. If you dare him, he will prove you wrong! He needs no introduction. He is Usain Bolt! Palpably, he is the fastest human that ever lived on the planet. At least, for now.
The Jamaican sprint legend last Friday night clinched his third gold medal at the Rio Olympics, with another first in the 4x100m relay in a time of 37.27seconds), having earlier won both the 100m and 200m finals and stretching his stunning feat to a total of nine gold in 12 years.
By that phenomenal feat, Bolt joins American Frank Wykoff (1928, 1932, 1936) as the only athlete to snatch three gold medals in the men’s 4x100m relay as well as Finland’s Paavo Nurmi and American Carl Lewis on a record nine Olympic athletics gold medals.
Perhaps, what makes the Jamaican legend’s case very special is that he still holds the world record for the 100m and 200m. He broke both records clocking 9.58 seconds in the 100m and 19.19 seconds in the 200m at the 2009 World Championships in Germany. In the last world championships in Beijing, China, the Jamaican champion made 9.79 seconds, winning his third world championship.
Many say he has more than sealed Olympic immortality with his latest feat.
“I came to this Olympics to win three gold medals, to prove myself again as one of the greats. Now, I can be ranked alongside sport’s top heroes Pele and Muhammad Ali as one of the greatest,” he said after the swash-buckling event, which saw him dance to the reggae hit-track ‘One Love’ by compatriot and legend, Bob Marley.
Having lost both 100m and 200m races to Jamaica, many had predicted the States to give the Jamaicans a stiff challenge for their money. Indeed, ahead of the race, the rivals look closely matched, the Jamaicans running 37.36 to win at the IAAF World Championship Beijing 2015, and USA posting 37.38 in winning at the IAAF World Relays earlier that year.
The Jamaicans have won the past two Olympic gold and in 2012 beat the US squad squarely with both teams under the former world record (albeit with the US result later annulled); on the strength of Bolt’s unbeatable anchor leg, the yellow-and-green islanders have won the past four world titles.
Sadly, the United States were no match for the Caribbeans as they finished third (37.62). However, just as they think they were returning to the medal podium in the discipline for the first time since the 2004 Athens Games, misfortune struck! They were disqualified on the grounds that the baton was passed around illegally.
The ruling: The Justin Gatlin-anchored team had breached rule 170.7 of the IAAF handbook, which states that “in all relay races, the baton must be passed within the take-over zone.”
In summary, the team had made an exchange violation in its first handoff, with Gatlin reaching back toward Mike Rodgers and touching the baton in advance of the legal zone.
Eight years ago at the Beijing Games, the men’s relay team failed to even advance through qualifying after a bungled handoff between Tyson Gay and Darvis Patton; so it is becoming all-too familiar now.
However, the USA Track and Field, the country’s governing body for the sport, immediately filed an inquiry to review videotape of the violation. Interestingly, the petition has been flung through the window, according to media reports. It means the Andre de Grasse-led Canada team, that placed fourth, swaggers away with an unexpected bronze medal in a time of 37.64, lowering the mark of 37.69 set in Atlanta ’96 for gold.
Japan, amazingly, struck an Asian record of 37.60 to clinch silver.
In the London 2012 Olympics too, the US team was stripped of its silver medal after Tyson Gay’s positive drugs test.
Clearly, Bolt may not be bothered at all about this development. Whatever final decision is reached on the case, it would not affect his grand prize and a permanent place in the athletic history book he has authored.
He had said in interviews here that his immortality class would only be struck with gold in the relay.
And candid US sprinter Tyson Gay, could not help but say: “Nine gold medals, words can’t even describe what he’s done for the sport.”