His place in history already secure, Usain Bolt added to his legend by anchoring Jamaica’s 4x100m relay team to a world record, capping his second Olympics in a row with three gold medals.
After setting three world records in Beijing four years ago, the “NEW WR” signal did not flash up on the timing clock for Bolt until the last race on the track at the London Games, as he sped away from US anchor Ryan Bailey to cross in 36.84 seconds. That shaved 0.2 seconds off Jamaica’s old world mark.
Only a man like Bolt could upstage Mo Farah.
The Briton made it a second “Super Saturday” for a frenzied home crowd at the Olympic Stadium, winning the 5,000m to clinch a long-distance double at the London Games.
As good as he was, Farah realized the night belonged to Bolt.
“What he does for the sport, it is absolutely amazing,” Farah said. “We take it for granted. We are not going to see a legend like him again.”
After winning the 100m and 200m to anoint himself as a “living legend,” Bolt went full-throttle one last time at the Games, gritting his teeth as his giant stride again made the difference. This time he ran through and dipped at the line to get the world record and turn the US-Jamaica men’s sprint rivalry in the favor of the small Caribbean nation of 2.9 million.
“It’s just to top it off. To put a double triple, that’s what it’s done,” Bolt said. “A wonderful end to a wonderful week. What else do I need to do to prove myself as a legend?”
The US took silver in 37.04 seconds, equaling the old mark that Bolt and his fellow Jamaicans set last year at the world championships.
Then the party started.
Bolt slapped his chest and held three fingers upward. His full trademark “To the World” pose followed and a long parade of flag-waving for a nation that celebrated its 50th year of independence during the London Games.
The 80,000-capacity crowd could not get enough, chanting: “We want Bolt. We want Bolt.”
The showman obliged.
He started shaking his fingers, set off a crowd wave around both tiers of the giant Olympic Stadium, and followed up with his playful antics. He has enchanted the fans and entranced the competition.
“When I took the baton, I was thinking: ‘Run, run, run for my life, but Usain Bolt is a monster,’” Bailey said. “I was just trying to run.”
“He has run the times and he’s broken the records. I can definitely give him the title of that — he’s a living legend,” Bailey said.
International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge does not rate him quite that highly yet, preferring to call him an “icon,” who needs to prove his greatness over more than two Olympics.
“First of all, I would like to answer with a question: What else do I need to do to prove myself as a legend?”’ Bolt said, before listing most of his records, titles and medals.
“I don’t know what else to do, really. Next time you see him, I think you need to ask him what Usain needs to do that no human man has ever done,” Bolt said.
Allyson Felix also won her third gold of the Games, giving the 4x400m relay team a big lead halfway through the race as the US further closed in on winning the medals table with nine athletics gold overall.
Sanya Richards-Ross had an easy relay anchor leg to add the relay gold medal to her 400m gold. Felix earlier won the 200m and the 4x100m relay.
For the 80,000 fans, though, one more victory for Farah meant more.
Taking the lead with 700m to go, Farah staved off all challenges and, riding incessant howls of encouragement, swept away on the home straight. He threw his hands wide in victory, slapped his head and screamed out loud in amazement after he crossed the line.
Again, David Bowie’s Heroes blared over the speakers, just like it did the previous Saturday when British athletes won three gold within an hour. Without doubt, Farah made a great Olympics for Britain even more unforgettable.
“The crowd were amazing, they made an unbelievable noise,” Farah said. “Two gold medals, who would have thought that?”
His competitors, too, felt the power of the home fans.
“The crowd helped him. He ran 100 percent and they added another 10,” said fourth-placed finisher Bernard Lagat of the US. “So you had a guy running at 110 percent.”
Dejen Gebremeskel of Ethiopia threatened until 50m out, but he faded to take silver. Thomas Longosiwa of Kenya won bronze.
Little more than an hour earlier, Russia’s Yelena Lashmanova had claimed the third world record of the Games in the 20km walk.
Lashmanova walked past teammate and defending champion Olga Kaniskina within sight of the finish to clock 1 hour, 25 minutes, 2 seconds and win the Olympic gold medal. She improved on the one-year-old world mark by six seconds.
David Rudisha in the 800m and the US women’s 4x100m relay team had previously set new world records in the Olympic Stadium.
World champion Mariya Savinova of Russia won the 800m title, beating Caster Semenya of South Africa.
Russia’s brilliant day was capped when Anna Chicherova cleared 2.05m to win the women’s high jump.
The victories gave Russia eight gold medals to further cement their second-place standing in the athletics medals table, just one behind the US.
It all started under a glorious morning sunshine in The Mall, in front of Buckingham Palace, when Sergei Kirdyapkin won the 50km walk.