0

Bolt cements legend by anchoring relay to gold

LOCALS IN LONDON

Click HERE to check out the Daily Post's complete coverage of the 2012 Olympics, including Gwinnett athletes competing in the Summer Games.

photo

Jamaica's Usain Bolt, right, crosses the finish line ahead of Ryan Bailey of the United States in the men's 4x100-meter relay final at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London on Saturday, Aug. 11, 2012. Jamaica set a new world record with a time of 36.84 seconds.

LONDON — His place in history already secure, Usain Bolt added to his legend by anchoring Jamaica's 4x100-meter relay team to a world record and capping his second Olympics in a row with three gold medals.

After setting three world records in Beijing four years ago, the "NEW WR" signal didn't flash up on the timing clock for Bolt until the last race on the track at the London Games, as he sped away from U.S. anchor Ryan Bailey to cross in 36.84 seconds. That shaved two-tenths of a second off Jamaica's old world mark.

Only a man like Bolt could upstage Mo Farah. The Briton made it a second Super Saturday for a frenzied home crowd at the Olympic Stadium, winning the 5,000 meters to clinch a long distance double at the London Games.

As good as he was, Farah realized the night belonged to Bolt.

"What he does for the sport, it is absolutely amazing," Farah said. "We take it for granted. We are not going to see a legend like him again."

After winning the 100 and 200 to anoint himself as a "living legend," Bolt went full-throttle one last time at the games, gritting his teeth as his giant stride again made the difference. This time he ran through and dipped at the line to get the world record and turn the U.S.-Jamaican men's sprint rivalry in the favor of the small Caribbean nation of 2.9 million.

"It's just to top it off. To put a double triple, that's what it's done," Bolt said.

"A wonderful end to a wonderful week," Bolt said. "What else do I need to do to prove myself as a legend?"

The United States took silver in 37.04, equaling the old mark that Bolt and co. set last year at the world championships.

Then the party started. Bolt slapped his chest and held three fingers upward. His full trademark "To the World" pose followed and a long parade of flag waving for a nation that celebrated its 50th year of independence during the London Games.

The 80,000-capacity crowd could not get enough, chanting: "We want Bolt. We want Bolt." The showman obliged.

He started shaking his fingers, set off a crowd wave around both tiers of the giant Olympic Stadium, and followed up with his playful antics. He has enchanted the fans, and entranced the competition.

"When I took the baton, I was thinking 'run, run, run for my life,'" Bailey said. "But Usain Bolt is a monster. I was just trying to run."

"He has run the times and he's broken the records. I can definitely give him the title of that — he's a living legend," Bailey said.

IOC President Jacques Rogge doesn't rate him quite that highly yet, preferring to call him an "icon" who needs to prove his greatness over more than two Olympics.

"First of all, I would like to answer with a question: what else do I need to do to prove myself as a legend?'" Bolt said, before listing most of his records, titles and medals.

"I don't know what else to do, really. Next time you see him I think you need to ask him what Usain needs to do that no human man has ever done," Bolt said.

Allyson Felix also won her third gold of the games, giving the 4x400 relay team a big lead halfway through the race and the United States further closed in on winning the medals table with nine gold overall.

Sanya Richards-Ross had an easy relay anchor leg to add this gold medal to her 400-meter gold. Felix earlier won the 200 and 4x100 relay.

For the 80,000 fans though, one more victory for Farah meant more.

Taking the lead with 700 meters to go, Farah staved off all challenges and, riding incessant howls of encouragement, swept away on the home straight. He threw his hands wide in victory, slapped his head and screamed out loud in amazement after he crossed the line.

Again, David Bowie's "Heroes" blared over the speakers, just like it did last Saturday when British athletes won three gold within one hour. Without a doubt, Farah made a great Olympics for Britain even more unforgettable.

"The crowd were amazing, they made an unbelievable noise," Farah said. "Two gold medals, who would have thought that?"

His competitors, too, felt the power of the home fans.

"The crowd helped him. He ran 100 percent and they added another 10," said fourth-place finisher Bernard Lagat of the United States. "So you had a guy running at 110 percent."

Dejen Gebremeskel of Ethiopia threatened until 50 meters out but faded to take silver. Thomas Longosiwa of Kenya won bronze.

Little more than an hour earlier, Russian Yelena Lashmanova had claimed the third world record of the games, in the 20-kilometer walk.

Lashmanova walked past teammate and defending champion Olga Kaniskina within sight of the finish Saturday evening to clock 1 hour, 25 minutes and 2 seconds and win the Olympic gold medal. She improved on the one-year-old world mark by six seconds.

David Rudisha in the 800 and the U.S. women's 4x100-meter relay set new world records in the Olympic stadium.

Earlier Saturday, two-time world champion Sergei Kirdyapkin claimed an Olympic record in the 50-kilometer race walk, the longest event in the track and field program.

And world champion Mariya Savinova of Russia won the Olympic 800-meter title, beating Caster Semenya of South Africa.

Russia's brilliant four-gold medal day was capped when Anna Chicherova cleared 2.05 meters to win the women's high jump.

The victories gave Russia eight gold to further cement its second-place standing in the track and field medals table, just one behind the United States.

It all started under a glorious morning sunshine in 21 C (70F) heat at the Mall, in front of Buckingham Palace when Sergei Kirdyapkin won the 50K walk.

The men's marathon closes out the track and field program on Sunday.