Usain Bolt of Jamaica won gold in the men’s 200 metres at the Rio Olympics on Thursday night, further cementing his standing as the most dominant sprinter in history.
On a rain-soaked track, Bolt made winning his eighth career gold medal look easy. No one came close. His time: 19.78 seconds, well ahead of Andre De Grasse of Canada, who took silver in 20.02. Christophe Lemaitre of France won bronze in 20.12.
Earlier this week, Bolt, 29, hurtled past his competitors to win the 100m dash with apparent ease, becoming the first person to win three consecutive gold medals in any Olympic track and field event.
Bolt doubled that feat on Thursday with the 200m race, increasing his career gold medal haul to eight. He has one more event on his Olympic itinerary in Rio de Janeiro --- the men’s 4x100 relay on Friday night.
Bolt said on Sunday, after winning his first gold medal of the summer, that he felt he needed two more at these games to “become immortal”. He has said previously that the Rio Games would be his final Olympics and that he planned to retire after the World Championships next year.
Entering the race, it did not seem as if any of his seven competitors would offer him a serious threat. The result felt forgone.
The man long considered Bolt’s main rival, Justin Gatlin of the United States, failed to qualify for the final round after running a time of 20.13 in the semifinal on Wednesday. Afterwards, Bolt noted that Gatlin, at 34, was getting old.
In Gatlin’s absence, De Grasse, 21, had emerged as the Jamaican’s potential foil in the run-up to the final. The two had shared a particularly photogenic moment in their semifinal heat on Wednesday. Leading the pack as it neared the finish, Bolt had seemed intent on slowing down. But to his surprise, De Grasse kept pressuring him from the right side, and the two shared a laugh as they cruised through the line.
Representing the United States in the race was LaShawn Merritt, who arrived at the Olympics with the fastest time in the world this year, 19.74 seconds, which he recorded at the US trials earlier this summer.
The 100m possesses more glamour, commands more attention. But the 200m has been just as fruitful for Bolt. Since 2007, he has failed to win just one race in the distance --- the 2012 Jamaican trials, when he finished behind Yohan Blake.