Belfast Telegraph

Steven Beacom: Usain Bolt is King of London

What a sprinter, what an athlete, what an Olympian, what a champion, what a man.

There have been many stars in these glorious Games over the past fortnight, but none have lit up London quite like Usain St Leo Bolt.

The breathtaking Jamaican blew everyone away in the 100m on Sunday and on Thursday night he was at it again in the 200m with a sensational victory in front of 80,000 awestruck spectators inside the Olympic stadium.

Slowing up to savour the moment as he crossed the line in 19.32 seconds, the beauty of Bolt had once again beaten The Beast, his training partner and countryman Yohan Blake, who finished in 19.44, with another Jamaican Warren Weir taking bronze in 19.84.

The rest simply didn't count as Bolt created history by becoming the first man ever to retain his 100m and 200m Olympic titles.

The 25-year-old with legs that could race a leopard enjoyed a fantastic start, rocketing out of the blocks. The race was effectively over by the time the fastest man we have ever seen had reached the bend.

Blake kept him honest and perhaps a tiny bit concerned until the last 10 metres when Bolt decided the glory was his and to enjoy the monumental victory that in Olympic terms puts him on a different planet to those who have gone before.

Bolt is on a list with eight other men who won the 100m and 200m at the same Games — Archie Hahn (1904), Ralph Craig (1912), Percy Williams (1928), Eddie Tolan (1932), Jesse Owens (1936), Bobby Morrow (1956), Valeriy Borzov (1972) and Carl Lewis (1984).

What now sets Usain apart is that he is the ONLY man to have defended both crowns.

He's in a league and list of his own. As I wrote after his scintillating success in the 100m, he's the King of London. He confirmed that by giving the crowd, his crowd, a Royal wave when he was introduced to a deafening roar.

The fans loved it. Lapped it up like loyal royal subjects.

There may not have been a world record (it's 19.19), as was the case in the shorter sprint, but that time of 19.32, the same run by the great Michael Johnson in his Atlanta 1996 triumph, has only ever been bettered by Bolt himself.

In any case Bolt came here for two priceless pieces of gold and his name in the history books rather than numbers on a clock. Mission accomplished and there is still the relay to come. If Jamaica get the baton round Usain will be wearing three gold medals around his neck.

And nobody will deserve it more than this most charismatic of sportsmen.

Isn't he just the coolest guy you have ever seen?

Before one of the biggest races in his life he was laughing and joking with the track volunteers. My kinda guy. Everybody's kinda guy.

There's relaxed and then there's Usain Bolt relaxed. Last night he was messing about so much it was as if he was preparing for a night out with his mates, not about to compete in an Olympic final.

In years gone by sprinters, like say Carl Lewis, were stony-faced looking straight ahead not allowing themselves to be taken out of the “zone”. Bolt changed all that.

Most of the modern speed sensations have their own quirky comedy sketch, but none match the now five time Olympic champion, who has that magical ability to leave you transfixed. Literally when he is around, nobody else matters. You can't take your eyes off him.

Bolt's got it all — the personality, the talent and the character to get the job done. And a sense of humour too — those press ups after the race were a hoot.

He said before London 2012 began that he would only truly become a sporting legend if he retained his pair of titles.

Me and millions of others disputed that. He already had legendary and iconic status from Beijing 2008.

What he has done from Sunday simply launched him into a new stratosphere of greatness which might never be matched.

What a sprinter, what an athlete, what an Olympian, what a champion, what a man.

Belfast Telegraph

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