LONDON (AFP) –
Usain Bolt cemented his place in Olympic folklore by claiming a second three-gold medal haul in successive Games as Jamaica stormed to a world record-breaking 4x100m relay victory on Saturday.
It was the perfect send-off to a track and field programme at the Olympic Stadium dominated by Bolt, who became the first athlete in history to successfully defend his Olympic 100 and 200m titles earlier this week.
His part in the podium-topping relay team means he has now replicated his treble gold showing in the Beijing Games in 2008.
The quartet of Nesta Carter, Michael Frater, double Olympic sprint silver medallist Yohan Blake and Bolt scorched to 36.84sec, beating their previous record of 37.04sec set in the 2011 worlds in Daegu.
The United States claimed silver in a national record of 37.04sec, with Trinidad and Tobago taking bronze in 38.12sec after Canada were disqualified.
“It’s always a beautiful thing to end on this note,” said Bolt. “Last year we did it at the world championships, this year we did it again so for me it’s wonderful feeling to end on a high note.
“It was a great championships, I’m happy. The team came out and gave it their all. I knew it (a world record) was possible, I wish we could have gone faster but I guess we leave room for improvement.”
Missing usual anchor man Asafa Powell through injury, the baton was passed from Carter to Jamaican team captain Frater and on to Blake with the ease of accustomed practitioners of the relay.
Blake set a blistering pace around the bend, the crowd on their feet as Bolt positioned himself and set off.
Taking the baton in his left hand just before the limit of the changeover area, Bolt swiftly transferred the yellow baton to his right hand.
The US team’s anchor man, Ryan Bailey, was neck-and-neck with Bolt, but the Jamaican dipped his head and pushed through his drive phase.
After 20 metres, the head came up as he reached terminal velocity, Bailey by that stage trailing in his towering wake.
Bolt flew up the home stretch and flung himself savagely across the line, which he later kissed in celebration, quickly enveloped by his team-mates to the cheers from an adoring public.
The London Games are Bolt’s fourth global championship since 2008 and his record is startling.
He has won seven titles in the eight individual events in which he has competed, his one blip coming when he was disqualified from the Daegu world championship 100m final last year after a false start.
Bolt, also the world record holder in both the 100 and 200m, was in addition part of the Jamaican relay team that won four golds in that time.
“He’s a living legend,” Lamine Diack, head of athletics’ world governing body the IAAF, said shortly before the relay.
“He’s a young man who’s brought a great deal to our sport. He’s an extraordinary talent. He’s excellent for our sport. We’re delighted we have him and we support him all the way.”