Usain Bolt's five steps to greatness

Sport360 staff 06:11 15/08/2016
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Usain Bolt.

Usain Bolt blasted to his third straight Olympic 100 metres title as he took gold in 9.81 seconds in Rio.

The Jamaican had to work harder than expected to see off the challenge of American Justin Gatlin, though, after a sluggish start left him trailing at halfway.

But he powered through to land his seventh Olympic gold medal, with Gatlin taking silver in 9.89secs and Canada’s Andre de Grasse bronze in 9.91s.

Here, we take a look at five moments that have defined Bolt’s career following his victory in the 100m here.

Beijing brilliance   

Bolt arrived at the 2008 Beijing Olympics as the newly minted world record holder, having clocked a blistering 9.72sec at a meeting in New York in May.

When it came to the competition in China he was simply unstoppable, setting a world record in the 100m of 9.69sec before breaking Michael Johnson’s world record of 19.32 to win the 200m.

Bolt and Jamaica threw in a world record in the 4x100m relay for good measure.

Berlin record-breaker   

At the Berlin World Championships in 2009, Bolt defied logic by improving upon his astounding performance in Beijing the previous year, bettering his world records in both the 100m and 200m.

He sliced more than a tenth of a second his previous world best, scorching across the line in 9.58sec to take gold.

Four days later he followed it up with a scintillating display in the 200m, clocking 19.19sec.

Both records have remained intact in the seven years since.

Double-treble   

Bolt arrived in London chasing an improbable ‘double-treble’, aiming to successfully defend all three of his Olympic titles won in Beijing.

The first leg was achieved with victory in the 100m, where he and training partner Yohan Blake finished well clear of a field containing Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay. Bolt’s time of 9.63sec remains the fastest ever run at an Olympics.

The 200m saw a Jamaican clean sweep of the podium, with Bolt winning in 19.32sec ahead of Blake and Warren Weir.

The treble was duly completed in the 4x100m relay in a world record 36.84sec.

Gatlin thriller   

Bolt headed to the Beijing World Championships in August 2015 with signs that his crown might be slipping. Injuries had appeared to have left him looking vulnerable for the first time in seven years, and long-time rival Gatlin was the man in form with the season’s fastest time.

For many, the thought of Gatlin, twice convicted of doping offences, unseating Bolt was an uncomfortable proposition. World athletics chief Sebastian Coe said the prospect made him “queasy.”

Yet when he needed it most, Bolt was able to find an extra gear, winning in 9.79sec ahead of Gatlin, second in 9.80sec.

Rio romp   

Despite a patchy season hampered by injuries to his troublesome left hamstring, Bolt was able to draw on his phenomenal ability to raise himself for the big occasion in Rio. With the crowd roaring his every move — and booing his rival Gatlin — the champion stormed over in 9.81 to become the first man to win three consecutive 100m titles.

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India hockey medal hopes dashed after Belgium loss

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Sebastien Dockier scores the first of his two goals during Belgium's 3-1 victory over India.

When Belgium and India met in a quarter final clash at Rio on Sunday, both sought the chance to script history at the Olympics. For one, it was about reaching the semi-finals after a hiatus of 96 years, while for the other, the gap was strikingly less – 36 years.

As it turned out, Belgium prevailed and destiny dealt an unforgiving blow to the eight-time gold medalists who now have to wait for another four years for the golden dream.

Despite earning an early goal advantage in the match, courtesy of a Danish Mujtaba strike deflecting off Akashdeep Singh in the 15th minute, it was not long before familiar demons of inconsistency returned to haunt India. As Belgium gained momentum, the match steadily drifted away from the Indians.

Goalkeeper PR Sreejesh stepped up to deliver a solid performance, denying Sebastien Dockier a few seconds prior to Singh’s goal in the first quarter. The Indian captain was constantly tested by Dockier and Thomas Briels, but he pulled off a string of important saves.

That was until Dockier slalomed through the Indian defence to equalize on 34 minutes.

At this time, Belgium began to find their rhythm and put Sreejesh’s skills to test on a regular basis. The goalkeeper tried with all his might to keep the Belgians at bay, but when a Cedric Charlier cross breached the Indian defence and met Dockier’s stick, it was advantage Belgium.

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With the Indians building up pressure, Roelant Oltmans’ side settled on an ultra-defensive approach. Considering the mediocrity of the Indian strikers throughout the tournament, relying on counter-attacking was never going to be the best option.

India did manage to create a number of chances but couldn’t string together that killer pass to force a breakthrough. In the 22nd minute, Sunil’s cross from the left flank missed Nikkin Thimmaiah by inches when a goal looked certain. Some minutes later, he delivered a cleverly weighed cross to Singh who squandered the opportunity.

Three minutes into the final quarter, Belgium earned their third penalty corner. Once again, it was Sreejesh who proved why he is considered India’s star man throughout their Olympics campaign.

Back came Belgium and Tom Boon slotted their third goal to ensure victory. As the hooter announced the end of the match, and consequently, India’s run in the Rio 2016 Olympics, one was left to doubt whether Indian hockey was slowly building its way up the rungs in the international arena. Granted there have been occasional instances of brilliance, but does ranking outside the top four in the Games merit the optimism?

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Five things to know about Wayde van Niekerk

Sport360 staff 06:07 15/08/2016
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Wayde van Niekerk.

South African Wayde Van Niekerk smashed Michael Johnson’s long-standing 400m record when he stormed to Olympic gold on Sunday.

Van Niekerk, running in the unfavoured lane eight, blasted off the final corner to time 43.03sec, 0.15sec quicker than Johnson’s previous world best set in Seville in 1999, a record that had taken on mythical-like standing.

Here, we look at five facts about the new Olympic champion.

1. One family, two medals

Van Nierkerk is not the only member of his family to win a medal in Rio. His cousin is Cheslin Kolbe, who won bronze with the South African sevens rugby team last week. Van Nierkerk had a large number of his family at the stadium on Monday to witness his record-breaking run.

2. From Cape Town to Rio, via Beijing

The Cape Town-born star arrived in Rio with form. His winning time at the Beijing world championships last year was 43.48. In his slipstream that day taking bronze was the London 2012 champion Kirani James and in silver LaShawn Merritt. That pair filled the minor places again here, only in different order. In China he became South Africa’s first world sprint champion.

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3. Coached by a grandmother, and in Jamaica

In his quest for Olympic glory, the 24-year-old linked up with Usain Bolt’s coach Glen Mills in Jamaica in the run-up to Rio. “We have some good relationship with coach Mills, I’ve got to know him on the circuit over the last few months and years,” Van Niekerk said in June. His coach back home is a 74-year-old white-haired grandmother, Ans Botha. The unlikely combination teamed up three years ago, the move paying dramatic dividends.

4. Sprint history-maker

Van Niekerk created athletics history in March when he became the first to break 10-sec for 100-metres, 20s for 200m and 44s for 400m. Having already clocked 19.94 seconds and 43.48sec in the 200 and 400m, Van Niekerk timed 9.98sec in the 100m in Bloemfontain.

5. Marketing man

Born and raised in Cape Town Van Niekerk from a young age showed his aptitude for sport. But after attending a local college he continued his education, studying marketing at University of the Free State.

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