By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – For ten seconds on Sunday night, all talk of green pool water, lack of stadium food, and athletes’ muggings in the 2016 Rio Olympics took a backseat to one man in his sport’s most singular event: Usain Bolt and the Olympics’ 100-meter dash. And both lived up to the hype.
With a time of 9.81 seconds, Bolt became the first man ever to win the 100m in three straight Olympics, showing the world that despite a hamstring injury that sidelined him for a month, he is still the world’s fastest man.
At the sound of the gun in Sunday’s final, Bolt was slow out of the blocks, with several runners getting the jump on him. At the fifty-meter mark, Bolt’s nemesis, American Justin Gatlin, a divisive figure in this year’s Games after returning from a four-year doping ban, was in the lead.
It looked as if injuries, time off, and age had finally caught up with the 29-year-old Bolt. But, with about forty meters left, Bolt slowly started to pull ahead of the field and creep ever so closer to Gatlin.
With thirty meters left, as if somehow able to switch to a higher gear, Bolt accelerated to pull even with Gatlin, who was fighting valiantly to stay ahead of the oncoming Bolt.
In the race’s final moments, Bolt overtook Gatlin and glided across the finish line first, pounding his chest and pointing up to the sky proclaiming himself number one to the delight of the 47,000 raucous fans at the Olympic Stadium at Engenho de Dentro.
With a time of 9.81 seconds, Bolt finished just ahead of Gatlin who was second at 9.89 seconds and Andre de Grasse of Canada, who was third with 9.91 seconds. Following the breathtaking race, Bolt celebrated with the Jamaican fans, taking selfies and striking his iconic victory pose, called To Di World.
“I’m really happy but I expected to go faster,” Bolt told reporters. “With the turnaround time between the semi-final and final we normally have two hours, but we had one hour twenty minutes, it was challenging. But I’m just happy that I won and that’s the key thing.”
For British expatriate living in Rio and managing director of Moby Self Storage, Harry Taylor, “It was so exciting to go to the stadium last night knowing that we would see Usain Bolt run in what will probably be his last Olympics. When he entered the stadium the entire crowd went wild and it was obvious that the whole arena were there to see him, the fastest man in the world. The atmosphere was absolutely electric, and he didn’t disappoint!”
In addition to the energy of the Olympics in Rio, last night was also Father’s Day in Brazil, and Taylor adds, “I’m trying to take my son to see as much of the Olympics as time will allow, to experience the work ethic, teamwork, high’s and low’s of sport and the energy and joy that it brings to everyone involved. He was very excited (as was I) and I am sure he’ll remember it for years to come!”
Bolt has said the Rio Olympics will be his last Olympics before he retires, but he still has two races to go as he attempts to repeat his feats from the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Games competing in the 200-meter dash on Thursday (August 18th) and the 4×100-meter relay on Friday (August 19th).