Olympics | Track and field

Jamaica’s Usain Bolt wins gold in 100m, South Florida’s Sanya Richards-Ross wins gold in 400m

 

lrobertson@MiamiHerald.com

Jamaica’s Usain Bolt repeated as the gold medalist in the 100 meters in 9.63 seconds to break his Olympic record.

Lightning struck twice at the Olympics.

Jamaica’s Usain Bolt stormed to first place in the 100-meter dash Sunday four years after he turned the Olympic Games’ blue-ribbon event into a victory parade.

Bolt saved his celebrating until after he crossed the finish line. He used every inch of his massive stride to beat teammate Yohan Blake and American Justin Gatlin and run the second-fastest time in history.

Bolt’s 9.63-second clocking was a blink away from his 2009 world record of 9.58 and faster than his original world record of 9.69 from the Beijing Olympics. Bolt became only the second man to defend his Olympic title in the 100 meters, joining Carl Lewis, who won in 1984 in Los Angeles and in 1988, when Canada’s Ben Johnson was disqualified after testing positive for a steroid.

Bolt did not have the quickest start, but given his 6-5 height, it was a clean one. From fifth place, he overtook the field halfway through the star-studded field, edged ahead with 30 meters to go, suddenly opened a yawning gap and chugged across the line.

He said he considered hamming it up “like I did in Beijing,” but then it occurred to him he might be in world-record range. After leaning through, he pointed to the sky, jogged to the stands and slapped palms with spectators, did a somersault, tied a Jamaican flag around his shoulders and performed his pantomime as an archer pulling back a bow loaded with a lightning bolt.

Bolt said he was somewhat nervous, thinking back to his false-start disqualification at the world championships, but once he heard the cheers inside Olympic Stadium, which included a large contingent of Jamaican fans, “the jitters went away.”

“I was with the crowd,” he said. “I just ran. I ran hard. I sat in the blocks a little, but my coach had told me to stop worrying about the start. The best part of the race is the end.”

The best part of the 400-meter race for Sanya Richards-Ross was also at the end, when she gritted out the last 30 meters to win her first Olympic individual gold medal in 49.55 after seven years as the world’s premier quarter-miler.

“It’s a huge weight off my shoulders,” said Richards-Ross, a native of Jamaica who grew up in Pembroke Pines and graduated from Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas High. “I kept telling myself, ‘You are the champ, you are the champ.’ With 100 to go about four of us crossed together, which I’m not used to. I said, ‘You can do this.’ I dug deep.”

Richards-Ross was favored to win in Beijing but slowed in the homestretch and placed third. This time, Great Britain’s Christine Ohuruogo closed hard to take silver from American DeeDee Trotter, who was third.

“All I could see was USA red,” Trotter said. “We got tied up at the end, but I’m proud to say it was me and Sanya fighting it out. This has been her dream since she was a little girl.”

About 40 friends and relatives of Richards-Ross were in the stands, including husband Aaron Ross, a Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback who got permission to miss three days of training camp to travel to London. He composed an inspirational prayer that he read to her in the morning. Now she has her most coveted Olympic gold medal to go with his two Super Bowl rings from the New York Giants.

“She was on my ride, and I wanted to be here for her ride,” Ross said. “I try to calm her down because she will tell you she’s pretty high-strung.”

Richards-Ross’ father, Archie, who constructed a weight room in the family’s garage, her mother, Sharon, who is her agent, and her coach, 78-year-old master of the 400 Clyde Hart (Michael Johnson’s coach) were also overjoyed.

“This journey has been so long,” Archie Richards said. “She’s been the best for years, and there was always something in the way. She ran a little conservatively on the backstretch, but I told her nobody talks about the time of Olympic champions, only the win.”

Bolt will be favored to defend his title in the 200 meters and in Jamaica’s 400 relay, which would give him six golds in two Olympics. He said he has only completed the first step of his goal to become a legend.”

“He will definitely do something nasty in the 200 — if he was going to lose, it would have been in the 100,” said Richard Thompson of Trinidad and Tobago.

Bolt ate a prerace breakfast at McDonald’s, but unlike in Beijing, he had no Chicken McNuggets.

At the starting line, the sprinters did their stand-up comedy routines: Bolt, who has fun as a DJ in Kingston clubs, pretended to mix records, then slicked back eyebrows and hair in honor of his barber and made the sign of bunny ears at the suggestion of a friend. Blake, 22, nicknamed “The Beast” by his training partner Bolt, clawed at the camera and growled. Gatlin glared.

Bolt, who had been bothered by tender hamstrings and a sore lower back in the weeks leading up to the Olympics, said he felt confident after loping through his semifinal.

“It means a lot because people were doubting me and there was a lot of talk,” Bolt said. “I’m glad to prove I’m No. 1. That’s what I do. I show up on the day.”

Gatlin, first at the Athens Olympics and banished two years later with a four-year doping ban, became the fourth American man to win multiple medals in the event. Tyson Gay, who owns the third-fastest time in history, finished fourth by .01 and was crying afterward at missing another chance at Olympic glory.

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