Sun | Sep 24, 2017

BOLT: The final chapter

Published:Sunday | August 14, 2016 | 8:00 AM
Yohan Blake powering to victory in his men's 100m heat in 10.11 seconds.
Nickel Ashmeade comfortably qualifying for the 100m semi-finals.
Bolt on the go as he eased into today's semi-final.
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RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil:

In 2008 Usain Bolt arrived at his second Olympic Games with a bit of a buzz after just setting a new world record in the 100m.

Eight years on and the boy from Sherwood Content, Trelawny, returns looking to give the historians even more work to do, and if yesterday's opening round of the 100m is anything to go by, they are in for a busy few days.

He was not the fastest yesterday, but he didn't need to be. He was not the only one who impressed either, but he didn't seem too bothered at all.

"A lot of guys are running well but that's a good thing, it means everyone will turn up and it gets you up to go and run a great final," said Bolt after clocking a comfortable 10.07 to win his heat.

Also turning up and looking like he means business is Justin Gatlin, who is pushing to become the first American since; well - himself, to win 100m gold at the Olympics since 2004. So it goes without saying that Gatlin was also impressive in qualifying, outclassing his heat to win in 10.01.

Yohan Blake seemed to have experienced a divine touch in recent times as he knelt to give thanks following his effortless 10.11 seconds win. One could not help but ask the same question that NEWSWEEK asked in its most recent publication - 'Can Yohan Blake beat his friend Usain Bolt to Olympic gold?'

Also raising their hand was joint World Championships bronze medallist AndrÈ DeGrasse (10.04), as well as Nickel Ashmeade and Trayvon Brommel, who both ran 10.13 after seeming to underestimate the competition, finishing second in their respective heats.

Good. Everyone is in great shape then.

Everyone is looking forward to today's big clashes.

"I can't wait for the semis. With this feeling that I have, why not? I'm feeling confident, I just ran 60m and shut it down. Yes, I am a little nervous; nerves can be good, when I'm nervous I run really well," Blake offered before a releasing cheeky jab.

"There is no pressure at all for me, all the pressure is on Usain (Bolt)," added Blake.

This might be true.

 

No sign of pressure

 

Bolt has been dominating all the headlines across the world long before he laid a foot in Rio de Janeiro. He is the one who has been placed on a white horse as the champion of the sport.

It is he who is looking to become the first man to win three Olympic 100m titles; three Olympic triple sprint gold medals, and ride off in the sunset as the undisputed sprinting 'Champion of Champions'.

Still, there is little evidence that this is having any effect on him at all.

Bolt spent the build-up to his race hanging with his parents, getting a haircut from Blake's massage therapist, Shaun Kettle - he normally trims before Olympics and stay rugged for World Championships. You know what they say - 'If it works ... .'

"I'm feeling good. I'm happy. I got the first one out of the way so I am happy about that and now it's all about execution and getting it right when it gets to the final," Bolt said. "My aim is always to win. That's my focus, that's what I'm here for."

Not that anybody had any doubts about his intentions in the Brazilian city, but the territories have been marked and sprint's alpha male seems ready to extend his reign.

We are approaching the end, but the last few chapters of Bolt's Olympic story seems destined to be as great a read as the rest.

andre.lowe@gleanerjm.com