Sat | Aug 19, 2017

Bolt stands alone!

Published:Thursday | August 25, 2016 | 8:00 AMHubert Lawrence
Usain Bolt reacts after crossing the finish line in a season-best 19.78 seconds to win the 200 metres gold medal at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics last Thursday night.
Usain Bolt celebrates winning the men’s 100 metres final with the Jamaica flag.
Usain Bolt does his 'To the World' pose after winning the men's 100m final in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Usain Bolt wins his third gold medal of the Rio Olympics as he anchors the Jamaica 4x100m team to victory.
Jamaica's Usain Bolt holds a model of himself as he celebrates winning the gold medal in the men's 4x100-metre relay final.
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It's hard enough to win one Olympic gold medal. Often those who achieve this high honour never have a finer moment in their sporting career. Those who do it twice in the same individual event are a special breed who maintain or exceed the high standards they set for themselves.

Six such athletes - Jamaican sprinters Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Ethiopian distance running legend Tirunesh Dibaba, Czech javelin expert Barbora Spotakova and shot put powerhouses Valerie Adams of New Zealand and Pole Tomasz Majewski - went to the recently concluded Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro seeking a third successive victory.

Only Bolt reached the golden goal, and he did it twice. It's another measure of how great the tall man from Trelawny has always been.

At 35, Majewski isn't the man who bombarded his American shot put rivals into submission at the 2008 and 2015. He battled hard in Rio, but missed the podium.

Slowed by a toe injury, the little empress of speed produced her three fastest times of the season to grab a bronze medal in the 100 metres. Likewise, Dibaba set a personal best for third in the 10,000 metres.

In all three of those cases, a star was born. Ryan Crouser took the Olympic shot put title back to the US for the first time since 2004 with an Olympic record, while Almaz Ayanna set a world record in the 10,000m.

In the 100m, Fraser-Pryce's training partner Elaine Thompson zipped home in 10.71 seconds in the first half of the first women's sprint double since 1988. At 24, Thompson could have her foot on the accelerator for years to come.

Adams lost her bid for a third gold medal in a dramatic ending to the women's shot. Michelle Carter, the world indoor champion, shot out to a last-round personal best of 20.62 metres. Thanks to Carter, the Americans had their female first Olympic shot put champion.

 

TRIPLE TROUBLES

 

Bolt, however, rose above the triple troubles of age, injury and waning motivation to complete hat-tricks in both the 100 and 200m.

Brilliantly coached by Glen Mills and the Racers Track Club, he ran away from American Justlin Gatlin and Andre DeGrasse of Canada easily in the 100m.

After separating himself from Carl Lewis, the other two-time gold medallist in Olympic history, he did the double. A storming run around the curve of the damp track gapped DeGrasse early in the 200m final and paved the way for a comprehensive victory.

His winning times of 9.81 and 19.78 seconds were a mere footnote.

His achievements are even more noteworthy because of the calibre of those who arrived in Rio with the same goal. Like Fraser-Pryce, Dibaba, Adams, Majewski and Spotakova, he has battled age, form and foe alike. For him to succeed where those others were not able is a mark of how special he is.

He truly is one of a kind.