POSTED: 05:26 a.m. HST, Aug 10, 2012
LONDON >> Usain Bolt heard all the talk.
About the pair of surprising losses at Jamaica's Olympic trials.
About how he isn't as fast as he used to be.
So after leaving the rest of the field in the Olympic 200-meter final far enough behind that he could afford to ease up over the last few strides, Bolt raised his left index finger to his lips and told everyone to shush. Bolt held that pose as he crossed the finish line in 19.32 seconds Thursday night to become the only man in history to win gold medals in the 100 and 200 at consecutive Summer Games.
"That was for all that people that doubted me, all the people that was talking all kinds of stuff that I wasn't going to do it, I was going to be beaten," Bolt said. "I was just telling them: 'You can stop talking now, because I am a legend.' "
Yes, when the stakes are the biggest, the spotlight most bright, Bolt is as good as gold.
Good as there's ever been.
Just ask him.
"I've done something that no one has done before, which is defend my double title. Back-to-back for me," Bolt said. "I would say I'm the greatest."
Tough to argue.
He added Thursday's 200 title to the 100 title he won Sunday in 9.63 seconds -- the second-fastest time in that race, behind only his own record of 9.58 -- duplicating the 100-200 victories he produced at the Beijing Games four years ago.
"The 200 spoke for itself. He's incredible. ... Doing some special things," U.S. men's track and field coach Andrew Valmon said.
In Thursday's 200, Bolt led a Jamaican sweep, with his training partner and pal Yohan Blake -- who upset Bolt in the two sprint finals at Kingston -- getting the silver in 19.44, and Warren Weir taking the bronze in 19.84. That was more than a half-second slower than the champion, a man Weir called "my bigger brother."
"Definitely, he's a legend. He motivated me a lot," Blake said. "It's his time. It's going to be my time soon."
In all, Bolt has won seven of the last eight major individual sprint titles in the 100 and 200 at Olympics and world championships, a four-year streak of unprecedented dominance. The only exception was a race he never got to run: Bolt was disqualified for a false start in the 100 final at last year's world championships, and Blake got the gold.
"The guy is just on another planet right now," Wallace Spearmon, the American who finished fourth in 19.90, said between sobs of disappointment.
Afterward, Bolt had plenty of energy left, dropping to the track to do five pushups -- one for each of his Olympic gold medals so far. Ever the showman, he bent down and kissed the track, then did it again a few minutes later, and also grabbed a camera from someone in the photographers' well and trained it at the group clicking away.
Unusually tall for a sprinter, the 6-foot-5 Bolt towered over the 5-11 Blake and 5-10 Weir as they posed together with Jamaican flags after their 1-2-3 finish. Bolt uses his long strides to propel himself past opponents. The sixth-fastest of eight entrants out of the blocks in the 200, he had made up the stagger on two other finalists before the turn.
Into the stretch, Bolt was at warp speed, gritting his teeth and pulling away. The only man who had even a remote chance of challenging him was Blake, but Bolt's extra gear carried him home.
By the end, it didn't matter that Bolt let up for his final three steps, taking a look to his left to check on Blake, who also was the silver medalist in the 100.
There was one world record established at 80,000-seat Olympic Stadium on Thursday: David Rudisha of Kenya won the 800 meters in 1 minute, 40.91 seconds, improving his own standard by 0.10.
Elsewhere Thursday, Americans went 1-2 in the decathlon (Ashton Eaton and Trey Hardee) and the triple jump (Christian Taylor and Will Claye), raising the U.S. track and field total with three days to go to 24 medals, one more than the total in Beijing. Jamaica is tied for second with nine track medals after Thursday -- four from Bolt and Blake.
When they returned to collect their prizes and hear their national anthem once again, Bolt did his now-customary leap up to the top step of the podium. He kissed his medal, then bit it.
Later in the evening, as his news conference ended -- after he noted that his medals are "in a safe deposit box with some armed men around them," and talked about making a terrific winger for a soccer team -- Bolt spread his arms wide and closed the session with this pronouncement:
"I am now a living legend. Bask in my glory."