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Sunday, Aug. 17, 2008

2008 BEIJING OLYMPICS: TRACK AND FIELD

Bolt cruises to 100m Olympic gold


Staff writer

BEIJING — And the winner is — Usain "Lightning" Bolt!

It took nearly as long to type the previous sentence as it did for the Jamaican speedster to win gold in the Beijing Olympics men's 100-meter final and earn the title of the World's Fastest Man in the process.

He crossed the finish line in 9.69 seconds, a world record, at National Stadium on Saturday night. Bolt broke his own record of 9.72, which was set on June 1 in New York.

Trinidad and Tobago's Richard Thompson took the silver in 9.89 and 30-year-old Walter Dix of the United States, the oldest finalist, earned the bronze in 9.91.

Churandy Martina of the Netherlands Antilles finished fourth in 9.93 and Jamaica's Asafa Powell, one of the favorites entering the Olympics, rounded out the top five in 9.95.

American Tyson Gay, who swept the 100-200 double at the 2007 IAAF World Championships in Osaka, failed to qualify for the final. He ran the second semifinal from Lane 9 in 10.05 seconds to place fifth, tying another Caribbean sprinter, Kim Collins of Saint Kitts and Nevis, for ninth overall.

Gay posted sub-standard times in Friday's qualifying rounds (10.09 and 10.22).

Bolt's 9.92-second effort was the top time in Friday's two preliminary rounds.

In the final, Bolt separated from the pack in the final 30 meters and cruised to victory, winning by three strides.

Bolt, who turns 22 on Aug. 21, draped a Jamaican flag over his shoulders, punched himself lightly in the chest, danced on the track and was mobbed by fans in a flurry of activity over the next few minutes.

A 200-meter specialist, he didn't compete in the 100 until this season.

In the semifinals, Bolt won the first heat from Lane 7 in 9.85 seconds. Powell took the top spot in the second heat from Lane 6 in 9.91 seconds.

Bolt's time in the semifinals matched the second-fastest effort in Olympic history. U.S. sprinter Justin Gatlin had the identical time at the 2004 Athens Games. The Olympic record had belonged to Canada's Donovan Bailey, who ran a 9.84 at the 1996 Atlanta Games. Gatlin is currently banned from the sport due to doping.

Six men broke the 10-second barrier. And six of the eight finalists hailed from Caribbean islands: Bolt, Powell, Thomson, Martina (fourth, 9.94), Trinidad and Tobago's Marc Burns (sixth, 9.95) and Jamaica's Michael Frater (seventh, 10.01).

Japan's Naoki Tsukahara missed the cut for the eight-man final, placing 13th among the 16 semifinalists in 10.16.

Gay returned to action in Beijing after a hamstring injury caused him to tumble to the track in the 200-meter final in July at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in July in Eugene, Ore.

"The injury was a setback to my training, but that's no excuse, because my hamstring feels fine," he said. "I feel great, I feel strong, I feel relaxed. It just wasn't there."

"I'm pretty upset," he said.



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