Lightning Bolt strikes gold and sets new mark

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 August, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 August, 2008, 12:00am

The Lightning Bolt struck the 'Bird's Nest' last night and set the Olympic history books on fire with a new world record in the men's 100 metres final.

Not only did Usain Bolt sizzle across the line in 9.69 seconds to claim the gold medal in the glamour event and an Olympic first for Jamaica, he started his celebrations several metres before he breached the tape - apparently mocking his rivals with his nonchalance.

Bolt was a class apart as he shaved three-hundredths of a second off his own world record.

'I felt the world record earlier on,' said the first Jamaican to win the title.

Richard Thompson, of Trinidad and Tobago, won the silver in a personal best of 9.89 seconds - making it a Caribbean night under clear skies in Beijing and sparking wild celebrations 13,000km away.

Dix Walter took the bronze in his personal best of 9.91, a consolation for the Americans after Tyson Gay failed to qualify for the final.

Asafa Powell - one of the three fastest men in the world - also disappointed in finishing fifth and dashing hopes of a one-two for the Jamaicans.

'Usain was spectacular,' Powell said. 'He was definitely untouchable tonight. He could have gone a lot faster if he had run straight through the line.'

For Gay, the other member of that triumvirate, there was only disappointment. 'I don't have any excuses, I'm pretty upset,' he said, adding that he felt himself 'tightening' during his semi-final.

It was Bolt's night and he stepped up to be crowned sprint king. He seemed to shoot imaginary arrows at the stars during his raucous, playful fiesta - pure speed followed by pure joy.

'My aim was to come out and win. When I saw the time, I'm celebrating. I'm happy,' he said.

Why didn't he try to do better?

'I didn't come here to run the world record. I came here just to win and I did just that. I didn't even know I'd broken the world record until I did my victory lap,' he said.

Moving immediately to scotch suggestions Bolt's remarkable achievement was illegally enhanced, Herb Elliott, the chief Jamaican team doctor, said: 'I don't care about the rumours. He's been tested over and over again.'

Full of confidence and sensing destiny, Bolt had pulled poses fit for a Greek god on the starting line.

Long after he had won, he kept running, and stopped only when he reached Jamaican fans - among them his relatives - in the stands of the National Stadium.

They draped the 21-year-old in their arms and flags and shed tears of joy as the packed crowd rose to applaud.

Playing to the cheering gallery of 91,000, Bolt held aloft his golden track shoes for inspection.

'Now I'm just concentrating on my two races coming up. I came here prepared and I'm going to try to do it [the 100 and 200 metres double],' he said.