It is a privilege to watch the fastest human in the history of this planet continue to prove that statement correct.
Usain Bolt, already the only person ever to win back-to-back gold medals in the 100 meters, is now the first and only to do it three times, and at three consecutive Olympiads. The 29-year-old global sports superstar came through on Sunday night, flaming to a 9.81 first-place finish.
“It’s not supposed to be that easy,” NBC track commentator Ato Boldon said. “It doesn’t matter who gets a lead, they are going to get caught.”
It wasn’t good enough to top his 9.58 world record from 2009, or his 9.63 Olympic record from London in 2012, but it was captivating, and a bit dramatic, nonetheless. Bolt was not great out of the blocks, and American Justin Gatlin had a tremendous sprint. But Bolt’s 6-foot-5 frame and matching, massive strides, allowed him to gain ground on Gatlin and eventually cross him around the 85-meter mark.
“There’s nothing that anybody can do about the final 50 meters of Usain Bolt,” Boldon said.
Gatlin, against any other competitor in his era, would be the Usain Bolt of the world. But he has gone up against, and lost to, Bolt every time. However, he and Bolt are now the only sprinters to ever medal in three Olympics. Bronze went to Andre de Grasse of Canada, who crossed in 9.91. It’s Canada’s first medal in the 100 in 20 years.
“I knew from the semifinals I could have won, because I could tell I felt good. I felt smooth,” Bolt said after the race. “I knew Justin Gatlin was going to get it started as always — he always has such a good start. All I have to do is stay cool, and get back to the race at 60.Being with the fans, just dancing, joking around, having fun — it goes together. Competition and everything goes together.”
For Bolt, there is plenty of work left to do. He’ll run the 200 meters later this week and try to earn a third straight Olympic gold in that event, and then he’ll partake in the 4×100-meter relay. If his Jamaican team finishes first there, Bolt will be 9 for 9 in his Olympic events for his career.