LONDON — There were many doubters this time around, but Usain Bolt dismissed all the talk and defended his Olympic 100 meter title in a dominant fashion, winning in an Olympic record 9.63 seconds.
Bolt had a subpar start for his standards but caught his opponents by the midway point of the race and blasted his way past them in the final 50 meters to win by 12 hundredths of a second ahead of countryman Yohan Blake.
American Justin Gatlin, the 2004 gold medalist, was third. Gatlin was convicted of a doping violation in 2006 and forced to sit out of competition for four years. Now at the age of 30 and eight years after glory in Athens, Gatlin reached the medal stand for the second time.
Heading in the race, many speculated about Bolt’s fitness after the double world record holder lost to Blake in both the 100 and 200 meters at the Jamaican Olympic Trials. Those losses came after Blake’s breakthrough season in 2011 when the man nicknamed “The Beast” won the 100 meter world title after Bolt false started and ran the second-fastest 200 meters of all-time.
Bolt was said to be struggling with back issues after the Jamaican Trials, but after visiting renown German doctor Hans Muller-Wohlfahrt, word was that Bolt was training well at the Jamaican Olympic training camp in Birmingham.
Minus the slow start, Bolt put all the pieces together on Sunday evening. His time was the second-best ever, just shy of his 9.58 second world record but besting his time of 9.69 seconds set in the Beijing Olympic final.
In other words, don’t doubt Usain Bolt. Whatever doubters may say about his partying and lack of commitment to training, Bolt has gotten it done whenever it has been absolutely necessary. Don’t be surprised if something special happens when Bolt and Blake match up later in these Olympic Games.