Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt won gold again at Rio’s Summer Olympics, blowing away the field in the 200-meter race Thursday. Bolt won his eighth Olympic gold medal with a time of 19.78. Taking the silver was Canada’s Andre de Grasse in 20.02.
France’s Christophe Lemaitre won bronze, at 20.12 seconds. U.S. runner Lashawn Merritt placed sixth, coming in at 20.19 seconds.
“I ran hard around the turn,” Bolt said. “On the straight, my body didn’t respond. I’m getting old.”
The Jamaican — who, we’ll note, is 29 — added that while he’s aiming to be among the greats when he retires, he doesn’t think he’ll be at the next Summer Olympics, in Tokyo.
“I want to say so,” he said. “I think this is the last one.”
Bolt has one event remaining in Rio: the men’s 4x100m relay.
Bolt didn’t threaten his records in this event: He owns both the world mark, at 19.19 seconds, and the Olympic record, at 19.30.
Those records were set in 2009 and 2008, respectively. Tonight, Bolt didn’t quite need to get to those levels to blow away the field in front of a large crowd that seemingly had come to see Bolt do exactly what he did: prove once again that he’s the fastest man alive.
Bolt ran in lane 6, next to Merritt in lane 5 and two slots over from de Grasse in lane 4. Coming into this race, the trio were the only runners to clock times below 20 seconds this season.
Before the men’s 200m final was run, Dalilah Muhammad of the U.S. won gold in the women’s 400m hurdles, in a thrilling race that included a strong recovery by her American teammate Ashley Spencer, who overcame a slow start to claim the bronze.
After her race, Muhammad said, “The reality of winning is even better than the dream. Olympic champion, in front of my name.”
Update at 9:36 p.m. ET: Roaring For Bolt
The stadium camera settles on Bolt during introductions, and the crowd explodes with cheers.
Update at 9:33 p.m. ET: Everyone’s Up
Nearly the entire arena is now standing, as Bolt and the other runners adjust their blocks.
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About 20 minutes before the race was to begin, a light rain began to fall in Rio, putting a sheen of water on the track.
The field in Thursday night’s race did not include one of Bolt’s American rivals: Justin Gatlin failed to qualify for the final.
If the size of the crowd tonight is any measure, people came out to Rio’s Olympic Stadium with the hope of seeing history — or at least, in the way only Bolt seems to always promise, to see something special. Will he grin again, as he flies past his competitors? Will he simply strike his famous lightning pose? Thousands of people are inside the stadium to find out.
That mood of energetic expectation extends beyond this building. Across the street from the Olympic Stadium, the locals are throwing parties and having cookouts. Many are grilling in alleys and on sidewalks, happy to sell beers and sausages to passersby. The steps of the stadium are a playground tonight, in this area that the locals tell us isn’t normally this busy after dark.