LONDON (AP) — Usain Bolt lived up to all the hype of becoming a “living legend” at the London Games, decisively defending his 100-meter title by beating Jamaican training partner Yohan Blake in the defining race of the Olympics.
He was slow out of the blocks but once his giant stride got going he was unbeatable once again, leaving Blake and 2004 Olympic champion Justin Gatlin in his wake with the second-fastest time in history.
“I knew it was going to be like this. There wasn’t a doubt in my mind it was going to be like this,” Bolt said.
Bolt set an Olympic record of 9.63 seconds, just .05 of a second outside his world mark.
World champion Blake equaled his personal best with 9.75 and Gatlin took bronze in 9.79.
Unlike his showboating and coasting during a then world-record run at Beijing four years ago, Bolt was all business until near the finish on Sunday night, even leaning at the line. That proved how seriously he took the challenge of his younger training partner, Blake.
Bolt ran on, then knelt and leaned his head downwards, kissing the track before standing and assuming his trademark “To The World” pose — pointing both fingers in the air for the first time during the Olympics. The crowd roared and later responded with chants of “Usain, Usain.”
Blake celebrated with Bolt, the pair embracing in front of Jamaican fans in the jam-packed 80,000-seat stadium.
Bolt has been troubled by a stuttering start since he was disqualified for a false start in the final of last year’s world championship, which brought Blake to the fore. In London, he proved that even with a slower kick out of the blocks, he still is in a class of his own.
“I was slightly worried about my start, I slipped a little in the blocks,” he said. “I don’t have the best reactions, but I secured it and that’s the key.
“My coach told me to stop worrying about the start and concentrate on the end, because that’s my best.”
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.