BEIJING – Usain Bolt is perfect yet again.
Dispelling two years of doubts, the Jamaican won three sprint gold medals this week for an overall world championship record of 11, anchoring the Jamaican 4x100-meter relay team with free-flowing, giant strides that have made him an icon for the sport.
Behind him, the United States was way behind in second place, but Justin Gatlin lost the chance for a third silver when the team had a bad exchange on the anchor leg. To the delight of the tens of thousands of fans in the Bird's Nest, China moved up to silver after the Americans were disqualified.
It was Bolt's third sprint triple in a row, starting at the London Olympics and continuing through the 2013 worlds in Moscow, and fifth overall.
The Americans got solace from Ashton Eaton's world-record performance in the decathlon. The Olympic champion beat his own mark with a stirring run in the closing 1,500 meters.
Eaton was around world-record pace throughout the 10 events over two days and, with exhaustion hanging heavy in the Bird's Nest, he pushed through pain to total 9,045 points, six better than his previous best.
His chest heaving, he crumpled to the track. Once he got up, he only had one thing on his mind: seeking out his wife, heptathlon silver medalist Brianne Theisen-Eaton, for an emotional embrace in the stands.