Thursday, April 18, 2024

One and only

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LONDON – Only the legendary Usain Bolt could upstage David Rudisha on an absolutely amazing night of athletics yesterday at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Despite racing to a phenomenal new world record of 1 minute 40.91 seconds in the 800 metres, the 23-year-old Kenyan’s feat was overshadowed by Bolt becoming the first man to do the back-to-back sprint double in the history of the Olympic Games.
Chasing the self-proclaimed status of legend, Bolt came out of the turn signalling his intentions from the gun.
He picked up the stagger, picked up on Warren Weir in just a few steps, having already left American Wallace Spearmon in the dust. He ran a great curve and came out in front, but lurking not far behind was Yohan Blake who took off after the fleeing target.
Bolt was clearly watching the jumbotron past the finish line as he sped down the straightaway and could see Blake coming.
Determined not to be beaten, he held form and slowed approaching the line, holding an index finger across his lips in the “Shut up” sign and then screamed “No. 1!”.
“It was a good race,” he later said.
“The key thing was always running the corners as fast as possible because I know I am a better turner than Yohan, so all I had to do was the corner very fast. So I did just that. I think I ran it a little bit too fast.
“When I came off, I could feel a slight strain in my back, so I decided I was going to keep my eyes on him and stayed in front of him. I did just that. That’s the reason I slowed down at the line.”
Like the women had done four years ago in the Beijing Olympics in the 100 metres, the Jamaican men will fill the podium when the medals are presented.
Bolt claimed his second Olympic title at these Games in 19.32 seconds, two-hundredths of a second off his Olympic record set in Beijing.
Blake was second in a season’s best 19.44 and Weir third in a personal best 19.84. Spearmon also dipped under 20 seconds with 19.90.
But Rudisha was in dynamite form.
In a pre-race feature with the BBC, he said he wanted the gold medal more than the world record, but it was clear the race was on world record pace from the splits.
Rudisha did the first 200 metres in 23.9 and the first lap in 49.3.
The stadium announcer seemed absolutely dumb-founded that the 600 metres split was 1:14.3. When Rudisha crossed the line and the flash time appeared, jaws dropped and the knowledgeable crowd burst into applause.
It was the best 800m in Olympic history with four personal bests – not counting Rudisha’s – two national records and all the runners did season’s best.
Eighteen-year-old Nijel Amos, of Botswana, who took silver, set a new national and world junior record of 1:41.73. Bronze medallist Timothy Kitum gave Kenya the one-three with 1:42.53.
“I’m very happy. I’ve waited for this moment for a very long time. To come here and get a world record is unbelievable,” Rudisha said.
“I had no doubt about winning. Today the weather was beautiful. I decided to go for it.”
Everything else that followed paled in comparison, although Barbadians can feel a sense of pride that Christian Taylor, who won gold in the men’s triple jump for the United States, has deep roots in Barbados, but even that result was in doubt.
After qualifying with the best performance, Taylor fouled his first two jumps and was in danger of not even making the final eight.
On the third attempt, he got a legal 17.15 metres which put him fifth overall. The winning jump of 17.81 metres came on the very next attempt.
Compatriot Will Claye who had been leading, claimed silver with 17.62 and Italy’s Fabrizio Donato bronze with 17.48 appearing in his fourth Games.
After taking the decathlon by the scruff of the neck from the very first day, American Ashton Eaton took gold with the 8 869 points, 27 off Roman Sebrle’s Olympic record.
World champion Trey Hardee gave the United States the silver with 8 671 points, and 8 523 won Leonel Suarez, of Cuba, bronze for the second straight Olympics.

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