LONDON – Move over, Carl Lewis. Usain Bolt has chased down legendary status.
Bolt became the only man in Olympic history to successfully defend both the 100-meter and 200-meter gold medals, coming in at 19.32 seconds and edging Jamaican teammates Yohan Blake and Warren Weir on Thursday night. Crossing the finish line with a finger to his lips – as if shushing his critics – Bolt officially silenced anyone who doubted his standing among the greats in track history.
"That was for all the doubters," Bolt said. "That was for all the people that was saying I wasn't going to win and I wasn't going to make myself a legend. That was just for them -- to say, 'You can stop talking now. I'm a living legend.' That was it."
Earlier this week, Bolt joined Lewis as the only sprinter to successfully defend the 100-meter Olympic gold, with Lewis having pulled off the feat in Seoul in 1988 after winning in the 1984 Los Angeles Games. But Bolt did Lewis one better, defending the 200 meters as well. Now he appears ready to go three-for-three in title defenses with the Jamaicans being heavily favored in the 4x100-meter relay on Saturday.
And for good measure, Bolt didn't hold back his ill feeling toward Lewis, who in 2008 criticized the Jamaicans for chaffing under questions about doping.
"Carl Lewis – I have no respect for him," Bolt said. "The things he says about the track athletes are very downgrading. I think he's just looking for attention, because nobody really talks about him. I've lost all respect for him. All respect."
Respect certainly won't be an issue for the Jamaicans after Thursday. Not with the 22-year-old phenoms Blake and Weir closing out the race behind Bolt for second and third. In what Weir called "a well-planned and executed race," the pair looked impressive. As Bolt came off the bend strong and pulled away with his long stride, Blake hung close behind until the final 30 meters, just as Weir was making his move up to third. Blake's silver came in at 19.44, while Weir took bronze at 19.84. The United States' Wallace Spearmon took fourth place at 19.90.
"I came off the turn, saw the big man in front of me – the tall guy," Blake said. "… God said it is Usain's time. He has been working hard, both on and off the track. He has been a good guy. He has motivated us. It's his moment. You have to enjoy it. He took over from Asafa [Powell]. Now I think I'm going to take over for him. And one day somebody is going to take over from me."
Blake took Bolt down in the 200 meters in the Jamaican qualifying event in June, 19.80 seconds to 19.83 – a result more shocking than the defending Olympic gold medalist's 100-meter loss to Blake in those same trials. It was Bolt's first 200-meter final defeat since a meet in Brussels in September 2007. Following that meet in '07, Bolt ran 19.30 to break the world record in the 200 meters in 2008, beating the mark of 19.32 set by the United States' Michael Johnson in Atlanta in 1996. He lowered the record to 19.19 in August 2009 and dominated his signature event until Blake's explosion in the Jamaican trials. Blake's best in the event heading into Thursday was the 19.26 he ran in September 2011.
And while Bolt's failure at those trials became a cattle call for his critics, he wasted no time once again establishing his dominance in London. Bolt edged Blake in the 100 meters to defend his gold in the event, setting a new Olympic record while hitting the line at 9.63 seconds. That time gave Bolt the three fastest times in the history of the 100m dash.
That dovetailed nicely with Bolt's aim in these Games – to become a legend.
"That's my ultimate goal," Bolt said of obtaining legendary status. "That's it for me."
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