Usain Bolt confirmed himself on Thursday night as a true legend. Although most people would have already considered him as such, he had previously stated that he felt he would need to defend his Olympic 100 and 200 metres crowns successfully to earn that title. After winning the 100 metres in Olympic record time on Sunday, all that was left for Bolt was to win his favourite event, the 200.
With Bolt coming into these Games less than 100 per cent fit and having lost his previous races to his training partner, Yohan Blake, at the Jamaica trials, I always felt the 200 race would be the one where he would be most vulnerable. Bolt has admitted that Blake trains harder than he does and training is a much bigger part of the equation over 200 than it is over 100.
Blake seemed also to feel that the 200 was his better chance and when the lane draw was released, it favoured Blake, who drew lane four with Bolt in lane seven. Blake would be able to keep his eye on Bolt and Bolt would not be able to see where Blake was during the race. This competition put Bolt under probably the most pressure he has experienced and he delivered fantastically, holding off the greatest challenger he has seen during his career while not 100 per cent fit himself, the result of a couple of injury setbacks earlier in the year.
And of course there were many doubters as well. Four years ago in Beijing he showed us that he is an incredibly talented athlete, but with his victories in the 100 metres on Sunday and the 200 metres on Thursday he proved he is a great competitor.
Blake finished second behind Bolt, with a former hurdler in Warren Weir taking the bronze for a Jamaica sweep of the medals. Bolt has inspired many young Jamaican athletes and I believe his success has been the catalyst for the tremendous success of the Jamaica team over the past four years.
Bolt's legacy will be felt for years to come. Jamaica has always had talented athletes but in the past many of them went to the United States to compete for colleges. Now those Jamaican athletes identified as having talent and who desire to have a career in athletics can remain in Jamaica to train with established training groups with Olympic and world champions under great coaches and at improved facilities. That ensures Jamaica's sprinting success will continue.
It will be interesting to see what Bolt does next.
Most people, myself included, would like to see him move to the 400 metres, but Bolt, like most great athletes, knows himself very well and knows that he has no interest in doing the hard training required to compete over the longer distance.
Bolt is a global superstar and loved by everyone. His personality and antics on the track have endeared him to sports fans around the world. But there comes a point when you get so big you can't go any higher — then the only thing people look for are ways to bring you back down.
Bolt is close to that point now and should probably start planning his exit. He is great for the sport but he also owes it to himself to make sure that he gets out while still on top.