Bolt completes 100m treble

Bolt completes 100m treble

August 16, 2016
Gold medalist Usain Bolt of Jamaica celebrates victory. — Reuters
Gold medalist Usain Bolt of Jamaica celebrates victory. — Reuters

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RIO DE JANEIRO — Usain Bolt stormed to an unprecedented third straight Olympic 100m title as Wayde van Niekerk smashed Michael Johnson’s long-standing 400m record in Rio Sunday.

On a night of high drama, Bolt galloped past drug-tainted US rival Justin Gatlin to cross in 9.81sec and become the first athlete to win the 100m three times in a row.

The emphatic victory set the Jamaican showman off on his quest to complete the ‘triple triple’ — 100m, 200m and 4x100m gold medals at three consecutive Olympics.

“Somebody said I can become immortal. Two more medals to go and I can sign off. Immortal,” said Bolt.

Although well short of his world record, Bolt expressed satisfaction with his performance.

“It was brilliant. I didn’t go so fast but I’m so happy I won. I told you guys I was going to do it,” he added.

Minutes earlier, jaws dropped as van Niekerk timed a lightning 43.03sec in the 400m, breaking Johnson’s 17-year-old record set in 1999.

“I have never seen anything like that,” Johnson told the BBC. “It is amazing. That was a massacre by Van Niekerk. This young man has done something truly special.”

Twenty-four hours after Michael Phelps brought the curtain down on his extraordinary career with a record 23rd gold medal, Bolt took center-stage.
When he entered the stadium, waving and playing to the crowd, fans were still reeling from van Niekerk’s sensational one-lap record.

But Bolt, 29, was quickly down to business and he reeled in the fast-starting Gatlin before easing up and thumping his chest as he crossed the line.

It was a crowd-pleasing victory over his US rival Gatlin, who has twice served drug bans in his career. He clocked 9.89. Canada’s Andre de Grasse took bronze in 9.91 seconds.

Exploding out of the blocks in lane eight, van Niekerk didn’t see another runner during the entire Olympic 400m final.

He didn’t need to. It was just him against the clock.

The South African sprinter broke the record, leaving two of the greatest one-lap runners of this era in his dust. Van Niekerk finished in 43.03 seconds — 0.15 seconds faster than Johnson ran on Aug. 26, 1999, in Seville, Spain. To think, Johnson’s mark was considered one of the almost untouchable records in track.

“I thought someone was going to catch me,” Van Niekerk explained. “I felt very alone at the end.”

The 24-year-old Van Niekerk leaned at the finish line, which he really didn’t need to do as Kirani James of Grenada and LaShawn Merritt of the Unites States weren’t even in the picture. James, the defending Olympic champion, finished with the silver and Merritt, who won gold eight years ago in Beijing, hung on for bronze as he staggered across the line.

Van Niekerk drove a wedge in the rivalry between James and Merritt at the world championships last August, when he beat them both with such a lung-searing performance that he left the track on a stretcher.

Now, he’s the fastest ever.

Instead of collapsing at the finish this time, Van Niekerk dropped to one knee and put his head in his hands. Moments later, he draped a South African flag around his shoulders and took off his spikes. As he did so, Van Niekerk pointed at the clock to make sure everyone saw his time.

Colombia’s world champion Caterine Ibarguen won the women’s triple jump with a leap of 15.17m which easily outstripped her rivals.

The two-time world champion Ibarguen was hot-favorite going into the Rio Games after winning 36 of her last 37 competitions excluding qualifying events.

Ibarguen’s young challenger Yulimar Rojas took silver with a 14.98m jump and became the first woman from the South American country to win a medal in athletics.

Kazakhstan’s London Olympics champion Olga Rypakova pulled off the two best jumps of her season, but her 14.74m in the fifth round was only good enough for bronze.

Greco-Roman wrestler Ismael Borrero claimed Cuba’s first gold medal of the Rio Olympics when he won the men’s 59kg category.

Borrero beat Japan’s Shinobu Ota 8-0 to add Olympic gold to his world title won last year.

Later, Russia’s Roman Vlasov successfully defended his 75kg title with a 5-1 victory over Denmark’s Mark Madsen.

The golden drought is over for France in fencing.

One of the sport’s traditional powers won its first fencing gold medal since 2008, easily defeating Italy 45-31 in the men’s team epee final Sunday.

Yannick Borel wrapped the match up for France with a quick touch of opponent Marco Fichera.

Hungary won the bronze after beating Ukraine 39-37.

Jason Kenny proved conclusively he is still top dog in the British team, and the world, when it comes to track sprinting, leaving compatriot Callum Skinner in his slipstream to power to a fifth Olympic gold.

Kenny has now won as many gold medals for Britain as fellow cyclist Bradley Wiggins and could take his tally to six when he contests his final event, the keirin, Tuesday.

China’s Shi Tingmao dominated the competition to win gold in the women’s 3-metre springboard event, with team mate He Zi taking silver and Italy’s Tania Cagnotto bronze.

Shi tied with He in the first two dives, before the 24-year-old pushed ahead in her third to achieve 84 points, the highest score, and eventually reached a total of 406.05, 18.15 points ahead of He and 103.2 points more than the last-placed diver.

China ensured top place in the weightlifting medals table for the fifth successive Games when Meng Suping won her nation’s fifth gold.

Sarah Robles, in third place in the +75kg, won the first weightlifting medal for the US since 2000.

Meng had to make her last clean and jerk of 177kg to edge out Kim Kuk-hyang of North Korea, who lifted more than 300kg for the first time. Meng did it and justified her last-minute selection for the Rio team.

Meng occasionally looked shaky, missing her first snatch and her first clean and jerk, but did enough.

August 16, 2016