With Eaton off the stage inside the media room, Bolt entered. Asked whom he believes is a better athlete, his golden touch returned.
“Well, um, I’m a great athlete,” Bolt began, “ but to do 10 events — especially the 1,500 — I gotta give it to him.”
See. That’s Bolt right there. In three seconds, the journalists’ story line went from Dueling medalists talk junk to each other at press conference! to, “Eh, he can have the title.”
Did we mention he waved to the crowd in very proper English etiquette, a la Queen Elizabeth II with gloves on, prior to putting his feet in the starting blocks? The crowd at the stadium laughed and applauded. Their man — yes, the Brits have co-opted him, too — was seconds away from his last individual race in London.
He crossed his heart, pointed toward the sky and snuggled into the blocks.
He rose. The gun went off. And the most electrifying sight of the Olympics thrust that gangly frame toward history.
Bolt flew around the corner, putting immediate distance between him and the earthlings. Jamaican teammate Yohan Blake saw him go, figured that might be it. But he made ground up on the straightaway, pumping his squat, muscular frame forward, trying to stay with his mentor and the guy he beat in both sprints at the Jamaican trials.
But at 50 meters, Bolt’s stride lengthened. Each step now was made with a singular purpose: to show the upstart 20-year-old who was really the fastest man on the island, to quiet all the detractors once and for all.
With the race his, Bolt, in the same lucky Lane 7 he won the 100 meters in, cocked his head to his left to catch Blake’s eye in Lane 4. Raising his right index finger to his lips, he pantomimed “Shhhh,” rocking everyone to sleep in 19.32 seconds. No world record, but he got the medal he came for, the gold he so wanted again.
Blake and Warren Weir, another Jamaican, blazed across right behind him. An island in the Caribbean barely 50 miles wide was now home to the fastest men on land.
They wore the Jamaican flags as capes, taking a lap around the track. The new Kingston Trio. Bolt wanted to stay out there forever. At the very end, he knelt down on the track and kissed it twice. He unleashed one more of his lightning bolts, tied the flag around his neck and he walked off just as he wanted to walk off — a legend, the greatest sprinter of all time.
“It is his time,” said Blake, shaking his head. “God said it is his time.”
For previous columns by Mike Wise, visit washingtonpost.com/wise.