Bolt Wins Olympic 200 Meters to Seal Place in Record Books

Usain Bolt won the 200-meter gold medal at the London Olympics to complete a historic sweep of the track sprints that the Jamaican runner said he needed to become a sports legend.

Bolt won in 19.32 seconds at the Olympic Stadium. Yohan Blake got the silver in 19.44 and Warren Weir took bronze in 19.84 as the Jamaican teammates captured all three medals.

The 25-year-old Bolt became the only man to successfully defend both the 100- and 200-meter titles at an Olympics, and the first runner to retain two titles since Finland’s Lasse Viren won the 5,000- and 10,000-meters at the Montreal Olympics in 1976. Bolt set an Olympic record of 9.63 seconds when he cruised to his 100-meter victory on Aug. 5.

“This is what I wanted and I got it,” Bolt said in a televised trackside interview. “I’m very proud of myself.”

Bolt is the only person to have run below 9.60 in the 100 meters and under 19.20 in the 200 meters. He broke his own world records in both distances at the 2009 world championships in Berlin, where he ran 9.58 to win the 100 meters and 19.19 to take the 200.

The Jamaican enjoyed his usual pre-race preparations, sharing a fist bump with both a volunteer by his block and Blake. He drew the loudest cheer when he waved at the capacity 80,000 crowd in a manner akin to that of Queen Elizabeth II, the British monarch.

Once the gun sounded, Bolt led the field, and even with Blake approaching his shoulder, the champion slowed slightly and put his right-index finger to his lips before crossing the line in a time that equaled the mark set by Michael Johnson when the American won gold at the Atlanta Games in 1996.

Final Glide

Bolt, whose 6-foot-5 frame helps him glide through the final strides of the sprints, only took up the 100 meters as speed work to prepare for the longer race. He said after winning the 100 meters in London that he may tackle the 400 meters for the first time.

Bolt’s face has adorned magazine covers and billboards in London, while competitors at the games have mobbed him whenever he ventures out of his apartment at the athletes’ village. Known as “Lightning Bolt,” he’s thrilled crowds with antics before getting set in the starting blocks and celebrates victories with an archer’s pose that he’s made his own.

Bolt’s sponsor Puma AG said he created media value of more than $105 million after claiming double gold and extending his world records in the 100 and 200 meters at the 2009 world championships.

Questions Answered

Bolt came into the London Games with question marks about his form and fitness after losing in both the 100 and 200 meters to Blake, his training partner, in his last competitive races.

Those were all answered in the Olympic 100. Coming from as far back as sixth, Bolt cruised past his opponents with long strides, leaving Blake, 22, to take silver ahead of the U.S.’s Justin Gatlin in the shorter sprint.

“I had a rough season, but I came out here and did what I had to do,” Bolt said after the 200.

Apart from Bolt, only eight men have completed the 100- and 200-meter sweep at one Olympics. Of those only Carl Lewis successfully defended the gold medal in the shorter race.

After making history Bolt kissed the track before going on a celebratory lap of honor with the other Jamaican medalists, stopping to embrace his mother, Jennifer; perform his archer’s pose; and then do a single push-up when he returned to the finish line.

“I know my coach is probably going crazy right now,” he said of the Jamaican medals sweep. “We’ve been working hard all season and we’ve pushed out each other.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Tariq Panja at London’s Olympic Park at tpanja@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net

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