Usain Bolt is still No. 1 in the 100-meter dash. Perhaps not the best he's ever been, but he is back for sure. As his lead increased with every stride, Bolt ran through the finish line tape and thrust his right index finger in the air.
Prior to runnning on Sunday nght with the pack to the halfway mark, Bolt moved to the lead and overtook a star-studded field to win the race in 9.63 seconds, an Olympic record that allowed him to join Carl Lewis as the only male competitors to win consecutive gold medals in the premier track and field event at the Summer Games.
"I executed, and that's the key," Bolt said. "I stopped worrying about the start. The end is what's important."
In his usual showmanship style, the Jamaican sprinter continued running for a victory lap that included a somersault, high-fives from front-row spectators, and a pause to crouch down and kiss the track. Thousands of fans chanted the victor's name: "Usain! Usain! Usain!"
Bolt's Jamaican teammate and training partner, world champion Yohan Blake, won the silver in 9.75, and 2004 Olympic champion Justin Gatlin of the U.S. captured the bronze in 9.79.
At the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, the 6-foot-5 Bolt electrified track and field by doing something no man had ever done – win gold medals in world-record times in the 100, 200 and 4x100 relay. His 100 time of 9.69 set there, came in spite of some slowing down for celebratory chest-slapping. That record time only lasted until the following year's world championships, when he lowered the record to 9.58.
But since then, "The World's Fastest Man" had been something less than Bolt-like, partly due to several minor injuries to his legs and back. In 2010, he was beaten by Tyson Gay, the American who cried after finishing fourth on Aug. 5. A false start eliminated Bolt from the 100 at last year's world championships, creating an opening for Blake. Then came recent, much-talked-about losses to Blake in the 100 and 200 at the Jamaican Olympic trials.
Bolt subsequently withdrew from a meet in Monaco which only added to the intrigue and set the stage for the most anticipated race of the 2012 games. He never allowed any of it to affect him in London. He entered these Olympics with the clear intention of becoming a "living legend." He may have accomplished just that.