Published August 10, 2012
As far as Usain Bolt is concerned, it's a done deal.
"I'm a legend now," he said.
But these Olympics aren't quite finished. And neither is he.
With the 200-meter gold medal in his pocket after a winning run of 19.32 seconds Thursday night, The World's Fastest Man now gets ready for the 4x100 relay. If he can lead the Jamaicans to a victory there, he'll be 3 for 3 at these Olympics, same way he was in Beijing four years ago.
He'll likely get a day off Friday for the preliminaries, then head back to the track Saturday for the final — his last chance to set a world record, the only thing to elude him over a very fast week at the London Olympics.
The relay mark is 37.10 seconds, the third of three records Bolt set, or helped set, at the Beijing Games.
"I think there's a possibility," Bolt said. "But you can never really say it, because it's a relay and there's a baton. You never know. But for me, we're going to go out, enjoy ourselves, run fast as possible. It would be a good way to close the show again."
What a show he put on Thursday night.
Bolt opened the night, during introductions, by giving a royal wave to the 80,000 fans at Olympic Stadium on hand to see some history.
Then, he ran a race fit for a king.
Burning off the starting line, he took an early lead, then powered around the curve. By the time he reached the straightaway, only Jamaican teammate Yohan Blake had any chance to catch him. Blake actually closed the gap for a moment, but then Bolt reached back and found that fastest gear — the one that has helped him become the first man to win the Olympic 100-200 double twice.
Blake finished second in 19.44 seconds and Warren Weir completed the Jamaican sweep, winning bronze in 19.84.
"The guy is just on another planet right now," Wallace Spearmon, the American who finished fourth, said between sobs of disappointment.
Bolt was comfortably ahead at the finish, so much so that he was able to slow down, put his left finger to his mouth and tell everyone to shush. It was less than six weeks ago that Bolt lost twice to Blake at Jamaica's Olympic trials and the world wondered if Bolt's days of dominating were over.
"That was for all that people that doubted me, all the people that was talking all kinds of stuff that I wasn't going to do it, I was going to be beaten," Bolt said. "I was just telling them: You can stop talking now, because I am a legend."
Another legend, Carl Lewis, has 10 Olympic medals — won in individual races, relays and the long jump over a span of four Olympics — and it's possible Bolt, who has whimsically spoken about trying the long jump, might want to look at reaching that number some day, too. He clearly has no love for Lewis. In the only awkward moment of an otherwise-engaging news conference, Bolt lashed out at Lewis, saying the American spends too much time casting aspersions about the possibility that the Jamaicans are dopers.
"Carl Lewis, I have no respect for him," Bolt said. "The things he says about the track athletes is really downgrading for another athlete to say something like that."
But this was no day for bickering. It was a giant celebration.
The win sealed, Bolt took a meandering victory lap that included some old fan favorites — his archer-like "To The World" pose — and some new ones — borrowing a photographer's camera and taking a few pictures. He also banged out five pushups on the track, one for each of the gold medals he has won.
While Bolt won his fifth career gold on the track, the Americans were piling them up in other corners of the stadium.
They went 1-2 in the decathlon (Ashton Eaton and Trey Hardee) and triple jump (Christian Taylor and Will Clay), raising the U.S. total to 24 medals, one more than what they won in Beijing, with three days to go.
"It's infectious," U.S. men's coach Andrew Valmon said. "When you think about coming in, we had one team meeting. We made it about the athletes and talked about what we needed to do, heard the message one time, embraced it and took on the challenge."
There was one world record established: David Rudisha of Kenya won the 800 meters in 1 minute, 40.91 seconds, improving his own standard by 0.10.
Hoping to hone in on a little slice of the Bolt magic, Rudisha served up the prospect of a showdown over 400 meters against the Jamaican, who used to run that distance but abandoned it because it was too much of a grind.
Bolt was more than happy to handicap that potential race.
"I think if I train, I can take Rudisha over 400 meters," he said.
But the goal heading to London was to become a "living legend," and while he's making a pretty good case for himself, International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge said it's too early to make such determinations.
"The career of Usain Bolt has to be judged when the career stops," said Rogge, who criticized the Jamaican four years ago for showboating by slapping himself on the chest at the finish of the 100.
"Let him participate in three, four games, and he can be a legend," Rogge added. "Already he's an icon."
An icon the Olympics would love to keep around.
Almost single-handedly, Bolt has helped track transform itself from a dying sport to one with a singular, smiling, worldwide star.
He turns 26 this month, however, and didn't sound completely sold on sticking around through the Rio Olympics in 2016.
"It's going to be a hard mission," he said.
But before he worries about that, there is more business to take care of at these Olympics.
"Tonight, all I've got to do is go home and rest," he said. "I've got the 4-by-1 coming up, and after that on Saturday, I'll party like it's my birthday."