The Bolt show moves on to the 200 at Olympics
Get ready for more of The Bolt Show.
Usain Bolt dropped by Olympic Stadium for a brief visit Monday night and did things his way, as usual, jumping to the top step of the medal podium to collect his second consecutive gold for the 100 meters.
When the Jamaican sensation returns to the track on Tuesday, it will be for the first round of the 200 meters, an event he’s planning to win, too, as part of his quest to become what he calls a “living legend.” As it is, Bolt and Carl Lewis are the only men to take home back-to-back golds in the 100.
No man ever has won two Olympic 200s.
After his victory Sunday in the shorter event in 9.63 seconds - the second-fastest time in history — Bolt was asked whether he’s the best sprinter ever. His reply revealed a rare bit of modesty from an athlete who tends to showboat aplenty, then backs it up when it’s race time.
“I can’t say that. I think I have to wait until the 200 meters, and then my fans got to say, ’Yes, he is,’ and the media’s got to say, ’Yes he is.’ I’m never going to say I’m the greatest until after my 200 meters.” That’s his favorite race, the one in which he holds the world record of 19.19, set at the 2009 world championships. The 200 semifinals are Wednesday, and the final is Thursday night.
Once again, Bolt will likely face a tough challenge from his Jamaican teammate and training partner, Yohan Blake, who took the silver in the 100 on Saturday. Blake beat Bolt in both sprints at their national Olympic trials.
“I’ve told Yohan Blake that 200 meters will be different, because that’s my signature event. I’m not going to let him beat me again. I’ve said that to him already,” Bolt said. “Remember I said that, Yohan.” The 200 qualifying heats close out the morning session Tuesday.
Other events on the schedule include the 110-meter hurdles featuring defending champion Dayron Robles of Cuba and 2004 gold medalist Liu Xiang of China, who pulled out of his preliminary round at home four years ago; and qualifying in the women’s 5,000 meters, women’s javelin and the men’s triple jump.
At night, the women will run their 200-meter semifinals, and medals will be awarded for the men’s high jump, men’s discus, men’s 1,500 meters and the women’s 100-meter hurdles, where Dawn Harper will try to win a second gold in a row and Lolo Jones will try to win her first after stumbling in the 2008 final.
In the first round of the women’s 200 on Monday, Veronica Campbell-Brown of Jamaica provided the only bit of drama, barely making it into the top three of her heat to advance.
Americans Sanya Richards-Ross — already the 400 champion - Allyson Felix and Carmelita Jeter, also made it through, along with Jamaican 100-meter gold medalist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.
Richards-Ross had the best time of the bunch at 22.48 seconds after a restless four or five hours of sleep the night before with her new gold medal.
“I just feel lighter and free, and so I’m just going to go out there and give it my best and hopefully make it through the semifinals as well,” said Richards-Ross.
The only other US gold so far in track and field came Monday night from pole vaulter Jenn Suhr.
For the first time she could remember, Suhr entered a big meet buoyed by a positive message from her husband, Rick, who’s been her coach since before they were married.
“Before I went out here, he said, ’You’re going to win this,’” Suhr said. “I’ve competed 100 times and that’s not something he says. It puts that extra spunk that I could do this. Someone else believes in me that much.” The takeaway was that no one is unbeatable — not even Russian superstar Yelena Isinbayeva, the two-time defending champion and world-record holder.
Suhr vaulted 4.75 meters (15 feet, 7 inches) to defeat Cuba’s Yarisley Silva, who cleared the same height but lost on a tiebreaker because she had one more miss in the competition. Of greater significance, Suhr defeated Isinbayeva, whose top height of 4.70 (15-5) was only good enough for a bronze this time.
When it was over, Suhr rushed over to the stands to find her husband, who draped a US flag around her shoulders while she sobbed into his chest. What a contrast from four years ago, when Rick was caught on camera berating Suhr after she was the runner-up to Isinbayeva.
Few knew at the time that they were romantically involved and would be married two years later.
“If he could get out there and try to push me over the bar, he would,” she said. “He’s done so much for me. He cares so much.”