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Monday, August 18, 2008

The first man to do the 100m in sub 9.7

BEIJING - Usain Bolt of Jamaica produced a stunning performance to win the men's 100 metres Olympic title here on Saturday in a new world record time of 9.69 seconds. (Watch the race here.)

The 21-year-old - who held the old record of 9.72secs - beat home Richard Thompson of Trinidad and Tobago (9.89secs) while Walter Dix of the United States was third in a time of 9.91secs. "I felt the world record earlier on," said Bolt, the first Jamaican to win the title. "I came here just to win and I did just that. I didn't even know I'd broken the world record until I did my victory lap. Now I'm just concentrating on my two races coming up. I came here prepared and I'm going to try and do it the (100 and 200m double)."

"I'm just happy. I wanted to please myself and I did that. I simply don't know (how fast I can go)."

Bolt, who was so relaxed at the finish that he slapped his chest before he corssed the line, said that the world record hadn't been on his mind. "I didn't come here to set the world record because I am the holder, I came here to win. I hope to win three gold medals, the 200 plus the relay. I am happy to make the country proud and to do it again for them in the 200m," added Bolt, who spoke to the Jamaican Prime Minister on the phone after his triumph.

Bolt's celebrations were understandably exuberant, taking off his golden shoes, kissing them several times, and draping himself in the Jamaican flag with several extravagant swishes as if he was a bullfighter. "The celebration? It wasn't planned, I was just celebrating, I was pretty happy."

Dr Herb Elliott, Jamaican team chief doctor, immediately moved to scotch suggestions that the youngster was doped. "I don't care about the rumours. He's been tested over and over again," said Elliott, who has a PhD in biochemistry. "I say to them to come down, come down and see our programme, come down and see our testing and see how we operate. come down anytime, day or night. we have nothing to hide."

Bolt's compatriot, and former world record holder, Asafa Powell came fifth as six of the eight finalists finished under 10 seconds, a record for the Olympic final, which also equalled the 1991 world final in Tokyo when six men also dipped under the 10 second barrier. Powell, who again failed on the big stage, paid handsome tribute to Bolt, who could well go on and add the 200m title later in the Games. "He is the best ever sprinter and I've said that before," said the 25-year-old. "He has run 9.69 and got the gold so he is definitely the greatest. It was a spectacular performance and he was definitely the best here. He could have run faster if he had run straight through the line."

Powell admitted he had simply run out of steam. "I was feeling good but I didn't feel it in my legs. They died on me." Bolt, who bettered compatriot Don Quarrie's silver medal from the 1976 Olympics when he finished second to a Trinidadian in Hasely Crawford, was headed by Thompson for the first part of the race but there was no contest once he got into his stride and went clear away from the field.

So commanding was his lead he eased up well before the line and held out his hands in celebration.

Behind him, Thompson showed the same impressive form the 23-year-old had displayed during the earlier heats to hold on to second but he too was left in awe of the winner. "It feels good to be here, to be part of history," said Thompson. "It was good to finish behind him (Bolt) because there's no way anyone on earth could have beaten him tonight. "To finish second to him that is a great accomplishment in itself. Usain is a great athlete. It was just a matter of time before he proved himself on this stage."

Dix, also an Olympic debutant, came on strong in the final metres to overhaul Powell, who lost out on fourth place to surprise package Churandy Martina of the Dutch Antilles. Both Dix and Martina admitted that Bolt had been on another level. "That was the greatest race ever," beamed 22-year-old Dix, who will take on Bolt again in the 200m. "I can't be more satisfied with third place. He (Bolt) broke the world record, you can't ask for more."

Martina, who showed his international credentials with fifth and seventh in the 100m and 200m at last year's world championships, said Bolt could take the time down even further. "Everyone could see what he did, he didn't even push through the line. It's an amazing time," said the 24-year-old.

World champion Tyson Gay, out of action for just over a month after suffering a hamstring injury before the Olympics, exited in the semi-finals earlier on Saturday, when he finished fifth.

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