When he crossed the finish line 0.12 of a second ahead of countryman Yohan Blake, he put his finger to his lips, a gesture intended to tell those who doubted him leading up to these Olympics to, well, shut up.
“I was just telling them, you can stop talking now,” he said. “I’m a legend.”
Bolt, the world’s fastest man, forcibly seized the stage on a night Ashton Eaton earned the title of world’s greatest athlete, clinching the decathlon gold while U.S. teammate Trey Hardee snagged the silver. The pair became the first Americans to finish 1-2 in the event since 1956, but it was hard to hear their voices above the din that followed Bolt.
“The 1-2 finish was what we really wanted,” Eaton said. “It’s been a really good history with the U.S. and decathlon. Trey and I are just doing our best to carry it on.”
Bolt also overshadowed arguably the night’s most magnificent piece of work: the world record set in the 800 by Kenyan David Rudisha, who lowered his own mark by 0.1 of a second to 1 minute 40.91 seconds while winning his first Olympic gold.
For Bolt, though, the night was all about . . . Bolt.
“I’ve done something no one has ever done before,” he said. “I made myself a legend.”
As Hardee and Eaton prepared to labor in their last event, the 1,500 meters, Bolt tied a Jamaican flag around his neck like a fashion scarf and skipped around the track’s perimeter. He borrowed a working photographer’s camera, put the strap around his neck and spun and took pictures of the crowd and Blake, who also claimed the silver in the 100 final. Blake beat Jamaican Warren Weir to the finish; Weir came home in 19.84.
Wallace Spearmon, the only American in the race, finished fourth in 19.90.
Bolt did push-ups beside the track. He jogged back to the finish line and bent over, kissing it twice, then stood up and did his signature pose, to the delight of the rollicking crowd. Later, he bounded to the top of the medal stand with a standing broad jump to receive his second gold of these Games.
Before the start, he had gathered his teammates, offering them three words: “One, two, three,” signifying the medal sweep.
“Four years [ago], when I was in high school, I watch him on TV,” Blake said. “For him to come, four years later, is not easy. . . . He’s a legend.”
Said Weir: “I played my part in history.”
Said Bolt: “There wasn’t a doubt.”
Well, there had been some doubt. Sunday’s victory had registered as something of a surprise, because Blake beat Bolt in both the 100 and 200 at the Jamaican Olympic trials, and Bolt hadn’t competed in the nearly six weeks between the trials and Games.