20 AUG 2008 General News

Men's 200m - FINAL

Usain Bolt soaks up the atmosphere after breaking one of the toughest world records on the books (Getty Images)Usain Bolt soaks up the atmosphere after breaking one of the toughest world records on the books (Getty Images) © Copyright

All he said was he wanted to win. Who was he kidding?

Usain Bolt did, of course, win the 200m gold to become the first man since Carl Lewis 24 years ago to complete the men's sprint Olympic double, that was never really in doubt.

But you know what he really wanted. Michael Johnson's iconic World record of 19.32 and the world was shaken tonight as Bolt shaved 0.02 from Johnson's mark to become the first man since Jamaican Don Quarrie in the 1970s to hold the world 100m and 200m records simultaneously.

All season Bolt had raised eyebrows and nudges that he could be the man to lower the 12-year-old World record mark set at the Atlanta Olympic Games. Earlier this season, he ran a lifetime best of 19.67 to win in Athens and in London he recorded 19.76 almost jogging down the home straight to to raise expectations he could, maybe just could, threaten Johnson's record.

He had showboated to a world record and an Olympic 100m gold on Saturday, but if he was to smash a second world record - at least Johnson's incredible figures - they would be absolutely no room for showboating. And they wasn't.

Bolt repeatedly brushed the top of his head and fired his imaginary Bolt of lightning as his name was announced to the crowd, but as soon as he settled in his blocks the giant Jamaican meant business.

He caught the stagger on Zimbabwe's Brian Dzingai within the first 40m and swung into the home straight with a clear lead on his pursuers - which included Churandy Martina and Shawn Crawford.

Down the home straight his monster stride ate up the ground as he continued to spreadeagle the field. Yet this was a very different Bolt to one we had seen in the past. He was not joking and toying with the field as he has in other races this season, he had a grimace on his face as he powered down the home straight and was 100 per cent focused on taking the world record.

He stormed down the final 50m and as he thundered across the line the time read 19.31 - later rounded down to 19.30 - the stadium erupted, Bolt raised his hands aloft in elation. He'd done it.

Bolt himself admitted he was stunned at breaking the record.

"I knew the track was a fast track but I didn't think this was possible," said Bolt, who also recorded the biggest winning victory margin - of 0.66 - in the history of the event at the Olympic Games.

"I'm shocked, I am still shocked. I have been aspiring to the world record for so long. It is a dream come true. I got out good, I ran the corner as hard as possible and once I entered the straight told myself to 'keep it up, don't die on me now.'"

What went on behind was almost forgotten in the euphoria of Bolt's World record breaking run. However, controversy raged.

First up, Wallace Spearmon of the USA who had crossed the line third in 19.85 and was gleefully joining in the post-race celebrations with Bolt when he discovered he had been disqualified for running out of his lane.

That was not all. Churandy Martina assumed he made history to became the first man from the Netherlands Antilles to win an Olympic track and field medal, setting a national record of 19.82 after crossing the line second.

However, the US lodged a protest that he, too, had run out of his lane, and he suffered the same fate as Spearmon.

What this all meant was Shawn Crawford, the defending champion, was upgraded to silver with 19.96 and his US team-mate Walter Dix shifted up the overall standings to take bronze in 19.98. 

It was not, however, something which sat comfortably with Crawford.

"It feel kind of weird. It feels like a charity case," he said. 

For the record, Dzingai was fourth (20.22), Christian Malcolm of Great Britain fifth in 20.40 and Kim Collins of St Kitts and Nevis sixth in 20.59.

All at least had the privilege of being involved in the fastest 200m race in history.      

For Bolt, who celebrates his 22nd birthday tomorrow, the future is limitless.

When Johnson ran his stunning 19.32 in Atlanta he was aged 28 and most knew that run represented the high water mark in his career. But with Bolt, still so young, what more can he can go to achieve?

As the world and athletics statisticians everywhere salivate at the prospect, it is perhaps fitting that Johnson has the final word on the subject, simply describing the stellar Jamaican as 'superman.' Enough said. 

Steve Landells for the IAAF       

 

 

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