Not even matching a world record is good enough to stop Usain Bolt.
Bolt won his third gold medal at the London Olympics as he anchored the Jamaican team to a world-record 400-meter relay dash of 36.84 seconds. The U.S. got silver, matching Jamaica’s old world mark of 37.04. Trinidad & Tobago was third in 38.12 after Canada was disqualified.
“I like to push barriers, I like to do things that no one has ever done before because it sets you apart from everybody else and that’s why I changed the game,” Bolt told reporters, flanked by teammates Yohan Blake, Michael Frater and Nesta Carter. “We’re happy and will continue pushing barriers.”
Three days ago, 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-meter races at the 1972 Munich Games and the 1976 Montreal Games.
Bolt set an Olympic record of 9.63 seconds when he cruised to his 100-meter victory on Aug. 5. Blake was second in the 100 by running 9.75, a time that would have won every Olympic final before Bolt took gold in Beijing.
Jamaica has dominated the 400-meter relay since winning the 2008 Olympics with a world record. The team won the world title in Berlin in 2009, and improved its mark to 37.04 at last year’s championships in Daegu, South Korea.
For Tyson Gay, winning his first Olympic medal as a member of the U.S. relay squad “fills a spot in my heart,” the American told reporters.
“Last week it was no medal for me, I was very upset,” said Gay, who had been inconsolable after finishing fourth in the final of the 100.
The U.S. quartet, which shattered a 20-year-old national record yesterday in qualifying for the final, last won the 400-meter relay at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. In 2004, the Americans were upset by the British team, then failed to finish their heat in Beijing in 2008.
The U.S. is edging closer, 100 bronze medalist and relay member Justin Gatlin said.
“We went out there and we put on a great show and we broke our American record twice,” said Gatlin, who passed the baton to Gay after the second leg. “That record was standing for 20 years before we even touched down in London. So to leave London with a 37.04, which was the world record last year, shows America is getting itself together and we’re back. We wanted to put on a great show.”
Bolt, who said a new world mark was possible before the race, pleaded with officials to let him keep the baton with which he and his teammates made history. The temporary dismissal of his plea drew loud boos from the crowd. After returning to the track for the medal ceremony, the Jamaican led the crowd in the Wave and drew chants of “Bolt, Bolt, Bolt.”
“I got the baton back,” Bolt said. “At the start he was saying I couldn’t keep it because it’s the rule. I got it back. He told me if I didn’t give it back I’d be disqualified, so that was kind of weird.”
There will never be another Bolt, Britain’s Mo Farah said in a news conference after he’d added the 5,000-meter title to his 10,000-meter gold.
“What he does for the sport is amazing,” said Farah, only the seventh man to complete the distance double. “We take him for granted. I don’t think we’ll ever see a legend like him again.”
Bolt leaves London fulfilling the goal he’d set himself of becoming a “living legend”.
“I’m just happy that I came here and did what I wanted to do,” Bolt said. “It’s just a wonderful end to a wonderful week.”