Lightning Usain strikes again

London-2012

USAIN BOLT sealed his place in Olympic history when he became only the second man to defend the 100 metres title.

The Jamaican flier clocked a new Games best of 9.63sec to win gold after first picking up the title at Beijing 2008. That was just off the world record of 9.58 he set in Berlin in 2009 — and his second fastest time ever.

Bolt, 25, said: “When it comes to the Championships I run. I always knew I would be OK on that track. “My coach kept telling me to stop worrying about the race. “I was worried about the start. It still wasn’t the best start but I executed it.” His victory was greeted with chants of ‘Usain, Usain’ from the 80,000 packed into the Olympic Stadium. He added: “I could feel the energy. I just knew the atmosphere would be like that out there.”

Only Carl Lewis had previously won two Olympic 100m golds in a row, first in LA in 1984 and then, in effect by default, when Ben Johnson tested positive four years later. Bolt’s fellow Jamaican Yohan Blake took silver after equalling his personal best of 9.75 with American former drug cheat Justin Gatlin third in 9.79. Had former world-record holder Asafa Powell not pulled up injured it would have been the first time in history that all EIGHT men had run under 10 seconds.

Usain Bolt crosses the finish line to win the men’s 100m final

1) Size matters …

It’s obvious, sure, but it doesn’t make it any less true. Being 6ft 5in tall allows Usain Bolt to take wider (and thus fewer) steps over a 100m race than his smaller rivals. On Sunday night he took 41 steps to win the Olympic final. Yohan Blake took 46 steps and Justin Gatlin took 42.5 steps.

2) … but it’s also about strength and elasticity too

What makes Bolt special is that he also possesses great strength and flexibility, which allows him to accelerate quickly and maintain a very high top speed. As Dr Ross Tucker of The Science of Sport website explains: “I’ve not seen such an elastic runner before. Bolt’s advantages stem from a superior stretch-shortening cycle function, which allows energy to be stored and used more effectively. We know from research that power output is proportional to the amount of energy that can be stored and released from the muscle-tendon junction during the muscle contraction.”

Usain Bolt celebrates after winning the 100m Olympic final

3) He was injury free

The news that Bolt had a “slightly tight hamstring” in the run-up to the Games led some to speculate whether the Jamaican would be at his best in London. But those close to his camp insist that he was able to put in six weeks of hard training beforehand. That ensured he was back to peak condition for the Games. And a fit Bolt is an almost unstoppable Bolt, providing he gets his start right.

4) He was more chilled than refrigerated Ting soda

Two scenes, six weeks apart, to compare and contrast. First, Bolt at the Jamaican trials: he had his business-face on, looked fretful before the start and failed to pass Blake, who started like a Lamborghini and finished like a tank. Second, Bolt entering the arena before the men’s 100m final on Sunday night: he was smiling while everyone else was stony-faced, down the track in his warmup with the energy of a 70s punk, and then destroyed the rest of the field in the second fastest time in history.

5) Bolt’s start

After the race, Bolt admitted that he was worried about a false start and so “sat on the blocks a bit” while he waited for the gun. His reaction time of 0.165sec, however, was actually faster than Blake (0.179sec) and Gatlin (0.178sec). As usual, Bolt was slower to build up to top speed than his nearest rivals, but his fast reaction time meant that although Gatlin was ahead of him early on, he was always within catching distance. Bolt could keep calm, and let his long legs do the rest.

How they finished

1. Usain Bolt (Jam) 9.63 seconds

2. Yohan Blake (Jam) 9.75

3. Justin Gatlin (USA) 9.79

4. Tyson Gay (USA) 9.80

5. Ryan Bailey (USA) 9.88

6. Churandy Martina (Hol) 9.94

7. Richard Thompson (Tri) 9.98

8. Asafa Powell (Jam) 11.99

Copyright 2012 by Guardian.co.uk & The Sun

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