LONDON >> Usain Bolt of Jamaica won his second straight Olympic gold medal in the men’s 100 meters Sunday, crossing the line in an Olympic-record 9.63 seconds.
Bolt joined Carl Lewis as only the second man to go back-to-back in track’s biggest race.
Bolt’s training partner and fellow Jamaican, Yohan Blake, finished second in 9.75. American Justin Gatlin took bronze in 9.79.
Bolt fell shy of his world record of 9.58 seconds but improved on the 9.69 he ran four years ago in Beijing to enter his name, once again, in the Olympic record book.
After taking half a victory lap around the track, he stopped, kissed the track and gave his now-famous “To The World” pose, pointing both fingers in the air while the fans screamed.
The sprinters were racing under partly cloudy evening skies, only hours after the women’s Olympic marathon set off and finished in pouring rain. And, as unpredictable as the British weather, Ethiopia’s Tika Gelana upset the favored Kenyans.
It was the second long-distance battle the Ethiopians won over the Kenyans at the games, and just as Tirunesh Dibaba made her finishing kick count in the 10,000-meters on the track, Gelana left it until late to kick for the line.
With clenched teeth she sprinted along the glistening Mall to finish in 2 hours, 23 minutes and seven seconds, an Olympic record, leaving Priscah Jeptoo of Kenya with silver. Russian former steeplechaser Tatyana Petrova Arkhipova was the surprise bronze medalist.
Gelana found time to blow a kiss before crossing the finish line with her arms aloft and falling to the wet, red tarmac, exhausted.
“As soon as the rain started, I said to myself ‘Thank God’. I love running in the rain, I have been doing that since I was a small child,” the 24-year-old Gelana said.
Beating the Kenyans was tough enough, but she also had to overcome a fall early on, which left her with a chafed elbow.
The Kenyans instead were ill-prepared for the downpours, including Mary Keitany, who has won the London Marathon twice over the last three years to establish her as a big favorite.
“I never competed in this type of rain,” Keitany said, “not even in training.”
Buckingham Palace, Westminster, Trafalgar Square and St. Paul’s were all landmarks on the marathon route, but the true tourist attraction on Sunday was set to be the Olympic Stadium, which was to host the biggest duel of the games — Bolt vs. Blake in the 100 meters.