The world’s fastest man makes history, while America’s Justin Gatlin takes silver.
For the third straight Olympics, Jamaica’s Usain Bolt claimed the title of world’s fastest man, making history as the first athlete to win three consecutive gold medals in the 100 meters. He finished in 9:81.
American Justin Gatlin followed Bolt, running 9.89 to take silver. Canada’s Andre De Grasse won bronze in a personal best 9.91.
It was 29-year-old Bolt’s fifth individual gold medal. In addition to his 100-meter dominance over the previous two Olympics, he has also won two consecutive 200-meter golds, at Beijing and London. Bolt holds the world record in the 100 at 9.58, set in 2009. He also holds the world record in the 200 at 19.19.
“I knew from the semifinals that I would [win],” Bolt told NBC’s Lewis Johnson afterwards. “I felt good. I felt smooth.”
Just five weeks prior to the Olympic Games, Bolt
Lighting strikes for the 3rd time! Usain Bolt is STILL the World's Fastest Man.
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) August 15, 2016
suffered an injury to his hamstring, forcing him to drop out of the Jamaican Olympic Trials. The country’s Olympic committee offered Bolt a slot at the Summer Games despite the setback.
After a slow start, he came from behind in the last 50 meters to outpace Gatlin by eight-hundredths of a second. Just before crossing the finish line, Bolt looked over at Gatlin, then pounded his chest and held up a single finger. He was rewarded with a thunderous cheer from the packed stadium after taking his signature celebration pose while draped in a Jamaican flag.
Bolt then jumped into the stands to embrace South Africa’s Wayde van Niekirk, who stunned the crowd earlier with a world record in the 400 meters.
Though Bolt has already earned the title of fastest human to ever run on a track, his Olympics are not over. He will run the 200 meters and compete with Jamaica’s 4X100 relay team later this week. He turns 30 next Sunday, and this is expected to be his last Olympic games. After the race, Johnson asked him, “One down, two to go?”
Bolt responded, “Yeah, definitely that’s the plan. I’m ready.”
The post-race celebrations and media attention were largely reserved for Bolt, but the race marked a comeback for 34-year-old Gatlin. The American came into the race facing scrutiny from his previous positive doping tests.
After serving a four-year ban from international competition due to a positive test in 2006, Gatlin earned silver in two consecutive world championships. He won bronze at the 2012 Olympic games in the 100. He had previously served a ban in 2001 for another positive drug test. Before Rio, Gatlin had run the fastest 100 meters of the year: 9.80 at the U.S. Olympic Trials earlier this summer.
American Trayvon Bromell also appeared in the final, running 10.06 to take eighth.