Lightning Bolt strikes gold: Usain storms to 100m glory and he answers his critics with resounding victory in 9.63 seconds

  • Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt defends his sprint title by setting an Olympic record time at London 2012
  • Fellow Jamaican Yohan Blake came second to claim silver in a time of 9.75 seconds
  • American Justin Gatlin, who served a four-year ban for doping, took the bronze in 9.79 seconds
  • Bolt's run was the second-fastest ever. He already holds the world record of 9.58 seconds

Usain Bolt sensationally defended his title as the fastest man on the planet last night as he sprinted to glory in an Olympic record time of 9.63 seconds.

In front of a global TV audience estimated at up to two billion, the 25 year-old Jamaican answered all the questions about his fitness and state of mind to retain his 100-metre sprint crown in what had been billed ‘the greatest’ race of London 2012 – and certainly the most anticipated.

Known around the world as ‘Lightning Bolt’, he lived up to the legend to run the second-fastest time ever and beat his fellow Jamaican Yohan Blake, who claimed silver with a time of 9.75, and American Justin Gatlin, who won bronze in 9.79.

Left trailing were Americans Tyson Gay and Ryan Bailey. Bolt's fellow Jamaican, Asafa Powell, pulled up injured during the race and came last.

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Champion again: Jamaica's Usain Bolt crosses the finish line to win gold in the men's 100-metre final in the Olympic Stadium in London

Outright winner: Usain Bolt streaks clear of the field to claim gold from lane seven in one of the most eagerly awaited Olympic events ever

Showman: Usain Bolt celebrates his victory by striking his customary lightning bolt pose in the Olympic Stadium in London

Points ahead: Usain Bolt proved his doubters wrong and retained the Olympic 100m title he first won in Beijing in 2008

Among those cheering the athletes on were the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, who joined in a standing ovation.

London Mayor Boris Johnson was also in the stadium.

A shower of flashbulbs lit up the stadium as Bolt settled into his blocks at the start line as the crowd took photographs.

It stopped for the time it took him to run the 100m and defend his Olympic title before the crowd, now on their feet, took more photographs and clapped as he went on his lap of honour.

After the race, Bolt said: 'I was happy when I went out in the first round, I felt I could do this.

'I was slightly worried about my start. It was not the best reaction in the world but I stopped worrying about it and executed it and it worked.

'I said it on the track, people can talk, all they can do is talk. When it comes to championships I bring it.

'I knew [the crowd] would be like this, I can feel that energy and I am extremely happy.'

Speaking about his compatriot and training partner Blake, the champion said: 'In training he always works hard and pushes me.

'I knew what I needed to do but I think he will do better next time. He is a major talent. He beat almost everybody and I know he will be more confident and do better next time.'

Blake, who won silver, said: 'Usain knows what it takes. He is a world beater and he is the fastest man in the world.

'But I got a medal in my first Olympic games and a lot of that is down to Usain and our coach.'

Bronze medallist Justin Gatlin, who won bronze in the men's 100m final, told BBC Radio 5 live: 'At this moment in time it was probably the dream race.

Taking a bow: Jamaica's Usain Bolt kneels and rests his head against the track in the Olympic Stadium after recording the second-fastest time ever

Star attractions: Jamaican sprinters Usain Bolt (right) and Yohan Blake (left) are mobbed by fans after winning gold and silver in the race

Golden boy: The Olympic champion in typical pose with the Olympic mascot


9.58 Usain Bolt in Berlin on August 16, 2009

9.63 Usain Bolt in London on August 5, 2012

9.69 Usain Bolt in Beijing on August 16, 2008

9.69 Tyson Gay in Shanghai on Sept 20, 2009

9.71 Tyson Gay in Berlin on August 16, 2009

'It was a great race and I think there are even better ones to come.

'Usain Bolt has the best technique out there. I tried to hold on with my technique and I got back on the podium for the first time in 10 years.'

Gatlin, the 2004 Olympic champion, was competing in London amid controversy after serving a four-year doping ban.

He said: 'It feels good, regardless of what I have gone through. I did this for the people who support me.

'This medal is for them and they pushed me when I didn't want to push myself.'

The race had been billed as the ‘hottest ticket’ of London 2012 with people paying prices of up to £725 to be among those in the stadium who could forever say 'I was there'.

In Britain alone the TV audience was expected to be about 15million – a quarter of all Britons – with theatres and cinemas putting on special screenings that had begun in time to the semi-finals earlier in the evening.

Despite earlier heavy rain and soggy conditions, thousands who had been at other venues inside the Olympic park on so-called ‘Super Sunday’ and ‘Showdown Sunday’ stayed to watch the race on the big screens.

Among those watching last night was American Harrison Dillard, 89, the gold medallist from 1948, the last time the Olympics were held in London.

His time of 10.3 seconds wouldn’t have won him a place in the 2012 final.

They're off: Usain Bolt (third left) did not start well in lane seven but he was comfortably leading the field as the athletes entered the final 20 metres

Effort: The world's fastest men - Usain Bolt (second left), Justin Gatlin (left), Yohan Blake (second right) and Tyson Gay (right) - strive to reach the line first

Storming in front: Bolt (second left) crosses the finish line first, ahead of fellow Jamaican Yohan Blake (second right) and bronze medallist Justin Gatlin (centre)

Global appeal: Some 80,000 spectators in the Olympic Stadium watched the 100-metre race, as well as an estimated worldwide television audience of up to two billion

Picture perfect: Cameras flash as spectators capture the moment that Usain Bolt left his competitors in his wake

Number one: Usain Bolt raises a finger after clinching victory, with the time reading 9.64 seconds on the electronic board behind. The time was later officially rounded down to 9.63 seconds

Rapid results: Bolt ran the second-fastest time ever - an Olympic record of 9.63 seconds. Yohan Blake won silver with a time of 9.75 and Justin Gatlin took bronze in 9.79. Seven men clocked a time below 10 seconds

The race had been hyped as a direct showdown between Jamaica's two top runners, with other athletes expected to trail in Bolt and Blake's wake.

And the event took on greater significance for Jamaica because it fell on the 50th anniversary of the Caribbean island’s independence from Britain.

Ninety-two per cent of Jamaica’s population was expected to watch the race.

Bolt's win will cause bookmaker Ladbrokes to pay out more than half a million pounds to punters across the UK.

The gold medallist began his semi-final as the odds-on 5/6 favourite but after jogging through another heat the firm immediately cut his odds to 1/4.

And one Bolt fan who was so sure the Jamaican would do the business bet £60,000 on Bolt at 1/4.

Before the semi-finals the firm were quoting 2/1 that Bolt's world record would be broken, which got backed into 6/4 before the off. However it was odds-on at 8/15 the record would remain untouched.

Jessica Bridge of Ladbrokes said: 'Bolt played us all for a fool and the bookies fell for it hook, line and sinker. He's the most expensive Olympian of all time and we'll be glad to see the day when he gets beat.'

An extraordinary false start and disqualification in the 2011 World Championships, the loss of both national sprint titles, had raised questions over Bolt’s state of mind coming into the Olympics and moved the aura surrounding Bolt that had over his fellow sprinters.

World order: American bronze medallist Justin Gatlin (left) can only look on with envy as Jamaica's Usain Bolt (right) rewrites Olympic history once again

On fire: Usain Bolt runs past the Olympic flame after winning the sprint final for Jamaica in scintillating fashion

Out of contention: Usain Bolt's Jamaican team-mate Asafa Powell, who pulled up injured during the race, looks forlorn after finishing eighth

Bolt's our boy: Fans in Brixton watch Usain storm to victory in the 100m

Joy: Fans who watched the race at the O2 Arena salute their hero with his 'Lightning Bolt' pose

It had been a difficult season for the triple Beijing sprint gold medallist who made a sluggish start in April, by his exceptionally high standards, of 10.04 seconds at a meet in the Czech Republic but then followed it with the second-fastest 100m of the year, 9.76 seconds, at the Rome Diamond League.

Hamstring trouble has restricted his public appearances this year, although famously he did appear with Prince Harry during a royal visit to Jamaica.

The mystery of the injury and a trip to a German doctor – Bolt claimed this week he was only 95 per cent fit - had led to a lot of support for Blake from former champions.

By Royal appointment: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, sitting in front of the Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, were among the 80,000 spectators inside the Olympic Stadium

Behind Bolt: Prince Harry wore Jamaican colours as he accompanied his brother and sister-in-law at the athletics

Among those doubters was American Olympic legend Carl Lewis, the only sprinter to retain the 100m title and another was Sydney sprint champion Maurice Greene who warned : ‘Usain will go out there and continue to do the things he does... but Blake is going to win.’

Despite the doubts, Bolt remained his usual brash, confident self declaring last month: ‘I’ve been saying this for years: this will be the moment, this will be the year, this is my time.’

Gatlin had qualified for the final fastest, recording a time of 9.82 seconds in his semi-final.

Psyched: Jamaica's Yohan Blake, pictured gesturing prior to competing in his semi-final, was one of the favourites for the Olympic title as he came into the race in excellent form

Fighting fit: Usain Bolt, who had been troubled by a hamstring injury, claimed he was only 95 per cent fit but he looked in fine condition before the eagerly awaited final


Blake and Bolt won their semi-finals with impressive times of 9.85 and 9.87 respectively, although both men appeared to be holding back to conserve energy.

Seven of the eight finalists broke the 10-second barrier to qualify, with the slowest competitor, Richard Thompson of Trinidad and Tobago, making it through in 10.02 seconds.

American sprinters Tyson Gay (9.90) and Ryan Bailey (9.96), Jamaica's Asafa Powell (9.94) and the Netherlands' Churunday Martina (9.91) completed the line-up.

There were no British representatives in the final after home hopes Dwain Chambers and Adam Gemili narrowly missed out.

Chambers ran 10.05 seconds and Gemili ran 10.06 in their semi-finals, coming within hundredths of a second of places in the final.

Gemili, a promising footballer who only turned to sprinting full-time in January, said he intended to remain in athletics.

'I am going to stick with athletics and see how it goes,' he told BBC Radio 5 live. 'Hopefully I can improve the times and become more consistent. The guys yesterday did so well.

'It boosts me up and makes me want to go forward and maybe one day be in the same position as them and win a gold medal for Great Britain at the Olympics.'

Chambers told the BBC: 'I wanted to do well and get into the final but I am happy to be here. I am gutted I didn't make the final, but I can't have it all. It was worth it all to feel that atmosphere. Money can't buy that.'

Fervour: Spectators from the Jamaican community in Brixton, south London, watch their heroes in action on television on the 50th anniversary of the Caribbean island's independence from Britain

VIDEO: Fans go wild following Usain Bolt's historic win 

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