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Friday, Aug. 22, 2008

2008 BEIJING OLYMPICS: TRACK AND FIELD

Bolt blazes to 200m gold in record 19.30


Staff writer

BEIJING — Usain Bolt confirmed his greatness in style, starting in Lane 5 and ending in a one-for-the-ages celebration before a worldwide audience.

Bolt, the youngest finalist in the men's 200-meter final, obliterated the competition on Wednesday night at National Stadium. He seized his second gold of the Olympics, winning in 19.30 seconds, a world record. Michael Johnson held the previous mark of 19.32 seconds, which was set at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

"I was feeling really tired," Bolt said later, moments before his 22nd birthday. "This track is really quick. I left everything on the track this evening."

That included his golden sprinting shoes. He took them off during his impromptu celebration, which included his kissing the track, donning a Jamaican flag over his muscular shoulders, doing his own new, funky version of a popular Jamaican dance and blowing kisses to his adoring fans.

Bolt joins elite company, becoming the first man to win the sprint double since American star Carl Lewis at the 1984 Los Angeles Games. He collected the gold in the 100 last Saturday, setting a new world standard of 9.69 seconds.

The Jamaican speedster is the first man to set world records in both the 100 and 200 in the Olympic final. He left his rivals in awe after his second stunning performance in less than a week.

"He's bad. He broke the 100-meter record, the 200-meter record," American sprinter Shawn Crawford said. "I'm serious. He's bad. He's a bad 'mama-jama.' Like Michael Jackson said, he's bad.

"The guy came out and made this the best Olympics of my lifetime."

Sixth-place finisher Kim Collins of St. Kitts and Nevis provided a similar perspective.

"We never thought a man would run a 9.6 and he did it," Collins said. "We never thought a man would run 19.3 and he did it. How fast can a man go before he can go no faster?"

Bolt's strategy for success is simple: chill out and run fast.

"If you enjoy yourself on the track, you will feel relaxed," said Bolt, who slept in until noon on Wednesday. "If you focus too much on the track, you will get nervous."

In a disqualification-marred final, Crawford and fellow American Walter Dix received the silver and bronze medals, respectively, with times of 19.96 and 19.98.

Churandy Martina of the Netherlands Antilles finished second to Bolt in 19.82 seconds, but was disqualified for stepping out of Lane 7. American Wallace Spearmon, who was clocked at 19.95 seconds, was also disqualified for his Lane 9 infraction.

"You never picture yourself coming home with a medal due to a DQ," Crawford said. "Every time I look at it, I'm going to be like: 'This medal was given to me. I don't deserve it.' "

Bolt's magical performance looked anything but ordinary as he rounded the curve and bolted past the field over the final 100 meters. It was a flawless performance and he made it look as easy as making a withdrawal from an ATM machine.

Bolt now prepares to help Jamaica vie for a medal in the 4x100 relay on Friday but not before basking in the glow of his own history-making antics.

"I've been saying for a long time that the 200 meters means a lot more to me than the 100," Bolt said. "I've been dreaming about the 200 since I was yea high. I'm real happy with myself, real proud right now.

He was the world junior champion in the 200 at age 15 in 2002, becoming the youngest male to do so. Bolt competed in the 2004 Athens Games, but didn't make it past the heats. In 2007, he earned the silver in the 200 at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Osaka.

Now he has clearly arrived as one of the top 10 athletic superstars — pick a sport, any sport — on the planet. Therefore he gets to answer questions after midnight about what he ate for breakfast and, oh yeah, his reaction after watching the record-shattering replay.

"I was looking at myself and saying, 'That guy's fast,' " a smiling Bolt said after watching the replay, "I was saying, 'I look cool.' "

Earlier in the day, Johnson spoke about Bolt's chance of breaking his world record in the 200 later in the day. The American responded by saying, "I don't think his training has given him enough speed endurance, but eventually it will have and then I will have to kiss my record goodbye.

"I don't think he will break it here. I wouldn't be surprised or shocked. In order to run 19.30, he has to run the curve better and hold his speed longer. I didn't think he could run 9.69, but I think he could have run 9.69 if he ran to the finish and tied up his shoes."

Bolt dismissed Johnson's analysis about his supposed lack of endurance training, saying his base work this year began at 400 meters and that he worked his way down to shorter sprints.

Johnson, however, was quick to point out that the 196-cm Bolt has a giant advantage over his shorter rivals.

"He has an incredible long stride, which affords him the ability to cover more ground," said Johnson, who won the 200 and 400 in Atlanta. "He has been able to take that long stride that he has and combine it with technique . . . (to) destroy the field."##

That's what the world witnessed on Wednesday night — and official coronation of Bolt's legendary status as an Olympic sprinter.

"I blew my mind," Bolt said, "and I blew the world's mind."



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