Rio Olympics: Usain Bolt's Legendary Night - Rolling Stone
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Rio Olympics: Usain Bolt’s Legendary Night

A few seconds of drama, and then the fastest man in the world pulled away from everybody

Usain Bolt, Olympic gold, fastest man alive, 100m, Rio Olympic Games

Usain Bolt, the fastest man alive, runs past the competition to capture gold in the 100m, his third in a row

Credit: Cameron Spencer / Getty

Sometimes you crave upsets, while other times you really can’t hate things for going according to script. You’d like some excitement and something unexpected to happen, but then you’re totally happy when a truly historic accomplishment takes place right before your eyes. You have to admit that yeah, that was something special. 

Of course, Usain Bolt winning his third straight gold in the 100m wasn’t a foregone conclusion. This wasn’t necessarily a Simone Biles type deal where you knew all along it would be complete domination, and then when it was all said and done you still sat there in awe of what you’d just seen. No, this, somewhat like Michael Phelps in the pool, at least had some hint of drama. That drama being that Bolt, like Phelps, is planning on making these Olympic Games in Rio his last, and there’s got to be some worry there. That the last dance will be spoiled, that maybe the whole point of these guys stepping away is that they can’t compete at the same level anymore. 

Nope. Not the case. Not by a long shot. Bolt seemed to know it all along, and shame on us for thinking otherwise. He knew it when he got to Rio, he knew it as he lined up, as he took off, as he caught up to American Justin Gatlin with 40 meters to go, and he sure as hell knew it as he crossed the finish line. That same electric smile overtook his face, almost mocking any of us who ever doubted him. It was simply a thing of beauty to watch. (And Bolt also gave us “the opposite of Crying Jordan,” so there’s that.)

“I am a living legend,” Bolt said after holding onto his titles in the 2011 London Games, the kind of thing you normally can’t just throw around – unless you’re Usain Bolt. The guy’s charisma and self-assuredness – totally earned since he is, and now gets to leave Rio, the fastest man on two feet in the world – is infectious. The fact that no athlete on the planet can do what he does in under ten seconds, and has done it every four years for the last three Olympics is incredible when you really think about it. We’ve waited four years for under 10 seconds of Usain Bolt. 

If you want drama, go ahead and watch the race over in slow-motion. That way you get Bolt starting out in the number six position, his 6-foot-5 frame lumbering a little behind his competition, looking like he won’t even make it to the medal podium for the first five or six seconds of the race. But then, in about a second or two, he strikes, the jets turn on. He overtakes everybody and wins. Just like that. That is how Usain Bolt cemented his legacy once and for all and gave us exactly what we all wanted, and now nobody can catch up to him. 

Usain Bolt brought out samba dancers for his final Olympic press conference. Watch here. 

In This Article: Olympics


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