After a triple-gold performance in Beijing where he was victorious in the 100-meter dash, 200-meter dash and 4x100-meter relay, Jamaican track star Usain Bolt will attempt to turn the trick once again in London.
Bolt almost came from out of nowhere in 2008 and became an international icon, but now he will have a target on his back as the fastest men in the world hope to knock him from his pedestal. If Bolt can repeat his feat from Beijing, however, he may cement himself as the greatest Olympic sprinter of all time.
Bolt will run the exact same program in London as he did in Beijing, and he is a contender for gold in all three events. It wouldn't be fair to call Bolt the odds-on favorite, however, as countryman Yohan Blake has beaten Bolt as of late and perhaps surpassed him.
Don't expect the reigning Olympic champion to go quietly, though, as he is still very much the man to beat. Here is a rundown of his entire Olympic schedule as track and field begins in London.
(Note: Article will be updated as results become final.)
UPDATE: Saturday, August 11 at 4:20 p.m. ET by Austin Green
Usain Bolt has officially defended all three of his Beijing titles, as he and his Jamaican teammates won gold in the 4x100-meter relay, finishing with a world-record time of 36.84.
It was another incredible performance from Bolt, Yohan Blake, Nesta Carter and Michael Frater, all of whom ran excellent legs.
Bolt served as the anchor, and although he was neck-and-neck with Ryan Bailey as he received the baton, he had no trouble blowing past the American.
The USA ended up with silver, as expected, finishing with a national record time of 37.04. Trinidad and Tobago (38.12) took bronze.
While the Americans ran a great race, Bolt and the Jamaicans were simply too good. With the victory, Bolt earned his sixth Olympic gold medal, further solidifying his status as the greatest sprinter of all-time.
---------End of Update----------
Bolt holds the world record in each event he will be competing in during the London Games, and the 4x100-meter relay is no exception. He and his teammates set a blistering pace at the 2011 World Championships and finished with a record time of 37.04 seconds. No team can come close to matching their talent, so the Jamaicans are about as big of a favorite as there can possibly be in a race.
With that said, though, there are a lot of crazy things that can happen in a relay. Not only does Bolt have to depend on others to help him capture gold, but a relay isn't simply about running. The baton pass is a huge part of it, and a sloppy exchange or a drop can completely derail a team's chances.
There have been some surprising Olympic champions in the relay over the years because of the unpredictability of the action. If Jamaica runs a clean race, then there is no other country that can come close; but that is far from a foregone conclusion.
The hype surrounding this race will be immense if Bolt manages to defend his 100-meter and 200-meter titles, so there will be a lot of pressure on the other Jamaican sprinters to be flawless. They could respond positively to that, but it could also be debilitating. It's impossible to say how they will react.
Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter
UPDATE: Thursday, August 9 at 4:05 p.m. ET by Ben Chodos
Usain Bolt stole the show during the track and field portion once again, winning his second individual gold medal in London as Jamaica dominated the men's 200 meter final.
Bolt won the race in 19.32 seconds, with his compatriots Yohan Blake and Weir Warren taking silver and bronze, respectively. Bolt and Blake left the rest of the runners behind, but the reigning gold-medal winner controlled the race the whole way.
This is the second consecutive Olympics in which Bolt has won gold in both the 100 and 200-meter races. His dominance in the sprinting events has made him an international superstar and an Olympic legend.
Bolt's only remaining event is the 4x100-meter relay, and considering Jamaica's performance's thus far, this event will likely be completely devoid of drama.
UPDATE: Wednesday, August 8 at 3:30 p.m. ET by Ben Chodos
The 100 meters gold-medal winner breezed through to the final of the 200 meters by winning his semifinal heat with a time of 20.18.
Bolt burst out of the blocks and led the whole way through, despite settling in to a seemingly relaxing stride for the last half of the race.
He kept his eye on the clock and occasionally glanced over his shoulder. None of the other sprinters could catch him, even though he was clearly not running at top speed.
Bolt will race tomorrow tomorrow in the finals at 3:55 p.m. ET. If his performances in the preliminary rounds of the 200 meters are a sign of things to come, he will be earning his second gold medal in London.
UPDATE: Tuesday, August 7, 7:15 a.m. ET by Donald Wood
In Round 1 of the men’s 200-meter dash, Usain Bolt gave us a flashback to the 2008 Olympics when he took a commanding early lead in his heat race and cruised to the win with a time of 20.39 seconds.
And when I say cruised, I mean he didn’t even look like he was trying for the last 50 meters.
It's well known that Bolt has the experience on the biggest of stages, so pulling up and not showing all of his cards right now is the right way for him to handle this event.
With the semifinals Wednesday, August 8 at 3:10 p.m. ET and the finals Thursday, August 9 at 3:55 p.m. ET, Bolt will have ample time to rest in between each race.
The impressive time in the first race proves that the 2012 Olympics 100-meter champion wants to take back-to-back golds in the 200-meter as well, and will likely do so.
---------End of Update----------
UPDATE: Sunday, August 5 at 5:00 p.m. ET by David Daniels
Holy crap he's losing.
That was my reaction half way through the 100-meter final as Team USA's Justin Gatlin had what seemed like a significant lead over Usain Bolt.
And then the fastest man to ever grace the planet did exactly what makes him so special: he kicked it into another gear that no other human as ever touched. Bolt ran an Olympic record 9.63 to win take the gold medal back to Jamaica for the second-straight Games.
His teammate, training partner and friend Yohan Blake who was supposed to be a major threat to Bolt's crown was left in the dust like everyone else. Bolt finished ahead of him by 0.12 seconds.
With his second-straight gold in the 100, Bolt didn't just solidify his title as the fastest man ever—he's now one of the greatest Olympians ever.
All eyes will be on Olympic Stadium during the 100-meter dash final, as it is considered by many to be the marquee event of the London Games. The race is set to take place on Sunday, Aug. 5 at 4:50 p.m. ET, and the field promises to be world class.
Bolt will probably have to duke it out with countryman Yohan Blake, as well as a couple of American contenders in Tyson Gay and Athens 100-meter champion Justin Gatlin. Bolt is probably the co-favorite along with Blake, and the 100 figures to be Bolt's biggest obstacle when it comes to winning three golds at consecutive Olympics.
Bolt is still the man in the 200-meter dash, and Jamaica should be dominant in the relay. But there are a lot of possible pitfalls for him in this race. Bolt isn't over the hill by any means, but at 25-years-old, he may succumb to youthful exuberance in the form of the 22-year-old Blake, just like Asafa Powell did to Bolt in Beijing.
UPDATE: Sunday, August 5 at 2:45 p.m. ET by David Daniels
You say save it for the finals? Nah.
Usain Bolt will compete for the 100-meter gold medal in just a few hours, but that didn’t stop him from blowing away the field in the semis. In the second heat, he recorded a 9.87 beating the U.S.’s Ryan Bailey by almost a tenth of a second—despite the fact that the time isn’t close to his personal best.
I guess you could say that he wasn’t running 110 percent, after all.
Justin Gatlin of Team USA actually ran a 9.82 in the first heat. But Bolt didn’t exactly have anyone to push him. Expect the Jamaican to take it up another notch in the finals running side-by-side with the world’s best.
With Yohan Blake next to him, nothing less than 110 percent will do.
UPDATE: Saturday, Aug. 4 at 8 a.m. ET by Mike Chiari
Jamaica's Usain Bolt was far from dominant in his Round 1 qualifying effort, but he still managed to win his heat and move on to the semifinals with a time of 10.09 seconds. Bolt's run appeared to be by design as he was even with the field for most of the run before moving to the front just ahead of the finish line.
Bolt appeared to jog while the rest of the runners went as hard as they could, but Bolt was still victorious and kept his dream alive in terms of defending his 100-meter gold from Beijing. Since competition will be a bit stiffer in the semis, Bolt will likely let the lead out a bit more than he did in this heat.
It's impossible to tell what kind of form he is in, but the fact that he essentially put forth partial effort and was still able to win is certainly promising for his chances moving forward.
The first event that Bolt will attempt to qualify for is his signature race, the 100-meter dash. The winner of this event is considered to be the fastest man on Earth, and that is a title that Bolt most definitely doesn't want to relinquish.
Here is the qualifying schedule that Bolt will have to navigate through:
Round 1 - Saturday, Aug. 4 at 7:30 a.m. ET
Semifinals - Sunday, Aug. 5 at 2:45 p.m. ET
You never know what might happen, but Bolt is a pretty safe bet to qualify for the finals. At the 2011 World Championships in Daegu, South Korea, Bolt was disqualified from the 100-meter dash due to a false start. Perhaps that will be in the back of his mind, but it should be a huge issue in the first round and semifinals.
Bolt is still the world record holder in this event with a time of 9.58 seconds, but we won't be seeing a time that fast during qualifying. Bolt will likely try to conserve his energy, and I have to believe that he can qualify quite easily at partial speed.
As impressive as Bolt's 100-meter dominance was back in 2008, the 200-meter dash was the race in which he truly blew away the field. Bolt is the world record holder in the 200 as well with a time of 19.19 seconds, and he should be the top qualifier for the event as long as everything goes the way it is expected to.
Here is Bolt's qualifying schedule for the 200-meter competition:
Round 1 - Tuesday, Aug. 7 at 6:50 a.m. ET
Semifinals - Wednesday, Aug. 8 at 3:10 p.m. ET
Just like the 100-meter dash, I can't see Bolt putting in maximum effort in order to qualify. He knows that he is head and shoulders above the rest of the field in this event, so he can take it easy. Bolt will have already completed the 100-meter event, so he will make every effort to remain fresh in qualifying for the 200.
Even if Bolt isn't the fastest qualifier for this race, he will be a heavy favorite in the finals due to his ability to flip the switch whenever he chooses to do so.
Few runners have been as dominant in the 200-meter dash over the course of their careers as Bolt. Not only is he the defending Olympic Champion, but he is a two-time defending world champion in the event as well. Nobody has even come close to touching Bolt in the 200, and while I would expect the same to be true in London, you simply never know.
Bolt holds the world record in the event with a time of 19.19 seconds, and he breezed to victory in Beijing. Yohan Blake will look to give him a run for his money, though, so nothing is guaranteed. Bolt's biggest competition might have been American Walter Dix, but a hamstring injury hampered him and prevented him from qualifying for the London Games.
As a whole, the 200-meter dash field appears to be much weaker than the 100, so it would be somewhat of a shock if Bolt didn't win. The final will take place on Thursday, Aug. 9, at 3:55 p.m. ET, so Bolt ought to have plenty of rest and should have little problem posting a strong time.
The only person who can beat Bolt in his race is himself, and I wouldn't expect that to happen, particularly if he wins the 100 and has plenty of confidence going in.
UPDATE: Friday, Aug. 10 at 2:55 p.m. ET by Mike Chiari
Jamaica had no trouble qualifying for the 4x100-meter relay final as it finished in 37.39 seconds and won the first heat by a comfortable margin over Canada. Bolt will run in the final, but he didn't compete in qualifying as Yohan Blake, Nesta Carter, Michael Frater and Kemar Bailey-Cole took care of his light work.
Had Bolt been in rather than Carter, Frater or Bailey-Cole, Jamaica might have given its world record of 37.04 seconds a run. Jamaica clearly didn't need Bolt, though, so allowing him to rest up and get ready for the final was certainly a good plan by the Jamaican coaches.
--END OF UPDATE--
It is fair to say that the 4x100-meter relay has become Jamaica's signature event, as it easily won in Beijing and is the three-time defending world champion as well. Bolt is the main man, but the relay team will also include Yohan Blake, Asafa Powell and either Nesta Carter or Michael Frater, so there is speed throughout the lineup.
Here is the qualification that Bolt and the Jamaican squad must persevere through:
Round 1: Friday, Aug. 10 at 2:45 p.m.
Unlike the individual events, the 4x100-meter relay requires only one qualification race, so the Jamaicans should be in great shape come finals time. The United States was giving Jamaica a run for its money during the 2011 World Championships before a fall knocked Team USA out of the race, so that is one team to watch on qualifying.
As long as each of the Jamaican sprinters runs at a brisk pace in the qualifying and don't mess up a baton pass or something of that nature, they should be safely into the final.