8/24/2016 2:49:53 AM

Bolt and Beautiful!

Bolt and Beautiful!

The Jamaican superstar yet again steals the show with a stunning late surge to beat American Justin Gatlin and win the 100M gold.

Canada’s Andre de Grasse takes the bronze medal

AN HOUR after securing his third successive Olympic 100M gold last Sunday, Usain Bolt was still patiently making his way through another 100M — the zig-zag ‘mixed zone’ where TV crews from around the world wait to snatch a sound bite.

Hundreds of fans hovered above, chanting his name, singing Bob Marley songs and roaring with excitement when he gave them a wave.

The great man had already com- pleted a leisurely circuit of the stadium, starring in a thousand sel es, but still found time to give every microphone his thoughts.

Inside the stadium, scores more journalists awaited a midnight news conference, where Bolt would say victory in the 200M on Thursday would upgrade his status from “legend” to “immortal”. Nobody who witnessed him run down double-doper Justin Gatlin to win the 100M in 9.81sec or the millions tuning in world- wide for the most-watched TV moment of the Games would have begrudged the hyperbole.

For 9.81 glorious seconds all the ills that have dogged athletics were forgotten as Bolt stormed to victory to become the first man to win three successive Olympic titles on the track.

The Jamaican trailed arch-rival Justin Gatlin, roundly booed by the Rio crowd for his doping past, until the 70M mark, but then swept past the tight- ening American, nding time to pat his chest as he crossed the line a metre clear.

Gatlin, the 2004 champion who came into the race with the season’s fast- est time of 9.80, took second in 9.89. Canada’s Andre de Grasse claimed bronze in 9.91, the same nishing order as in last year’s World Championships.

Victory took Bolt a step closer to his goal of winning a historic “triple-tri- ple” combination of gold in 100, 200 and 4x100M relay in three consecu- tive Olympics.

Other than the 2011 World Championships, when he was dis- quali ed for a false start, Bolt has won every global championship individual sprint race since 2008.

“I came here to achieve three gold medals. I came to prove I’m one of the greats,” said Bolt. “I wanted to set myself apart from everybody else and this is the Olympics and the place to do it.”

Athletics, relentlessly battered by unending doping and cor- ruption issues, needs Bolt probably more than any sport has ever needed.

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