LONDON – Jamaica’s Usain Bolt sped to one of athletics’ greatest feats Thursday as he became the only man ever to retain the Olympic 100m and 200m titles — and he sealed it with typical nonchalance.
As he approached the line Bolt, finishing ahead of fellow Jamaicans Yohan Blake and Warren Weir, put his finger to his lips to hush the crowd as he eased up and crossed in 19.32sec.
Afterwards, he grabbed a photographers’ camera and took pictures of Blake, and hugged and celebrated with fans, overjoyed at an achievement which puts him ahead of greats such as Carl Lewis and Jesse Owens.
“I’m very proud of myself,” said Bolt. “I had a rough season but I came out here and I did what I had to do.”
Despite a troubled build-up, Bolt won the 100m with ease on Sunday and he will now also be favourite to retain his third title in the 4x100m relay.
The only thing missing for Bolt was a new world record, something Kenya’s David Rudisha managed in the 800m final earlier.
The 23-year-old world champion was five metres clear of Nijel Amos of Botswana after taking control of the race from an early stage, and he charged down the home straight to clock a stunning new mark of 1min 40.91sec
It was the first world record in an 800 metres Olympic final since Cuba’s Alberto Juantorena set the mark in the 1976 final.
“To come here and break the world record is something unbelievable,” said Rudisha.
In other results, world champion Christian Taylor won the men’s triple jump, and his fellow American Ashton Eaton won the decathlon.
And the United States downed Japan 2-1 to win the women’s football gold, courtesy of a double-strike from Carli Lloyd.
Earlier, Britain’s Nicola Adams also entered the history books as the first ever women’s Olympic boxing champion.
In front of raucous crowds at east London’s ExCeL venue, flyweight Adams upset Chinese world champion Ren Cancan 16-7 to become the first on the podium in the Olympics’ inaugural women’s boxing competition.
“It is a dream come true. I am so happy and overwhelmed with joy right now. I have wanted this all my life and I have done it,” said Adams, who threw mock punches at the stands in celebration.
The packed arena shook to a burst of “Fields of Athenry” by Irish fans as multiple world champion Katie Taylor sealed the lightweight title with a narrow 10-8 win over Russia’s Sofya Ochigava.
And teenager Claressa Shields restored some pride to American boxing when she won the middleweight final against Russia’s Nadezda Torlopova.
None of the US men’s boxers won a medal in London, in what was their worst ever Olympics. At 17 years and 145 days, Shields is the youngest Olympic boxing champion since compatriot John Fields won in 1924 aged 16.
Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin won equestrianism’s individual dressage with a routine set to “Live And Let Die”, “The Great Escape”, and the chimes of Big Ben, the hosts’ third gold medal at a packed Greenwich Park.
Hungary’s Eva Risztov won the marathon swim by just 0.4 seconds from America’s Haley Anderson, after a 10km race at Hyde Park’s Serpentine lake described as “pretty violent” by fourth-placed Briton Keri-Anne Payne.
Back on the track Oscar Pistorius, the first double amputee to take part in the Olympics, had a scare when South Africa team-mate Ofentse Mogawane crashed out of the 4x400m relay heats, apparently ending his medal hopes.
But Kenya were disqualified over Mogawane’s fall and South Africa were reinstated to the final on appeal, keeping Pistorius’s campaign alive.
The first medals of the day were settled on the canoe-kayak sprint course at Eton Dorney Lake, with Germany bagging two golds while Australia and Hungary snaffled one apiece.
Separately, Africa Village, a hospitality venue intended as the continent’s shop window during the Games, was closed permanently due to unpaid debts.
And Belgian cyclist Gijs Van Hoecke was sent home after media pictured him stumbling drunkenly down a London street.