Usain Bolt Cements His Place In History, Winning 200 Meter Gold

Originally published on August 10, 2012 11:02 am

Usain Bolt cemented his place as one of the greatest sprinters in history, when he won the 200 meter final today.

Bolt was challenged by his Jamaican teammate Yohan Blake, who closed in with less than 100 meters to go. Bolt kicked on his burners and ended up taking back the lead and beating Blake 19.32 to 19.44 seconds.

The big deal here is that this makes Bolt the first Olympian to win both the 100 meter and 200 meter races two Olympics in a row.

Warren Weir, another Jamaican, took third.

The AP adds:

"The 25-year-old Bolt won the 100 on Sunday and now has five Olympic golds a number he celebrated by hitting the ground and doing five push-ups a few meters past the finish line.

"Bolt, who has long considered the 200 his favorite event, will try to make it 6-for-6 at the Olympics in the 4x100 relay, which starts Friday.

"The last country to sweep the 200 was the United States in 2004."

NPR's Tom Goldman reminds our Newscast unit that Bolt did not break the 19.19 world record, which he holds. Still, said Tom, this was a "thrilling" race.

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Now to track and field where crowds at the Olympic Stadium were treated to a bit of history in the making today. NPR's Tom Goldman joins me now. Hi there, Tom.


CORNISH: So Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt pulled it off, huh?


GOLDMAN: Yeah. Getting used to this, aren't we? He won the men's 200 meters, as he did four years ago at the Beijing Olympics. With this win, he becomes the first athlete to win the 100 and 200 meters twice in back-to-back Olympics. He said a few days ago when he won the 100 that he needed the repeat in the 200 in order for him to officially be considered a legend. Well, guess what? He's a legend. He says so, and you're not going to find anyone to argue with that.

CORNISH: So tell me about the race. I mean, was it close? Was there a little dance at the end?


GOLDMAN: You know, it was only close because he did that maddening Usain Bolt thing where he slows down at the end. His winning time was 19.32 seconds. His world record is 19.19. Now, he might very well have broken it, but along with being the greatest sprinter in history, he's a goofball, and he loves to have fun. And once he saw he had the race won, he seriously jogged or, shall we say, loped the last few yards. He turned to his left as he crossed the finish line, put his index finger to his lips to shush the crowd.

But early in the race, he was all business. He exploded out of the blocks. The first 100 yards, he established his lead, and as he came around the turn, you could see his eyes darting to the left, and that's where his Jamaican teammate Yohan Blake was running. Bolt knows that Blake is the only man who can beat him, so he was watching. Blake didn't beat him. He finished second, though. And talk about dominance, Warren Weir, of Jamaica, finished third, so it was a Jamaican sweep.

CORNISH: And staying with track and field, American Ashton Eaton began today leading in the decathlon. He's the world-record holder. How did he do?

GOLDMAN: He won. He won a gold medal. I mean, it wasn't as impressive points-wise as when he set the world record at the Olympic trials in June with 9,039 pts. He scored 8,869 points to win the gold medal. He doesn't - it doesn't matter to him. He wanted to win the gold, and he did. He won by 198 points over silver-medalist Trey Hardy of the U.S., who's a two-time world champion. And Leonel Suarez, of Cuba, took the bronze. So it was a great day for America in the decathlon.

CORNISH: Just a few seconds left, but I wanted to talk about male boxers. First time in Olympic history American boxers did not win a medal - American male boxers. What happened there?

GOLDMAN: Yeah. Well, they didn't. They didn't have a good tournament. But leave it to the women, just like Howard was talking about with the female soccer players. Claressa Shields won the gold medal in the middleweight division, and Marlen Esparza took the bronze in the flyweight division in the first ever women's boxing event at the Olympics. So the U.S. did quite well, very exciting game for them.

CORNISH: NPR's Tom Goldman from London. Thanks, Tom.

GOLDMAN: You're welcome.


And we're going to hear from gold-medalist Claressa Shields a bit later in the program. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.