Day 13 of the London 2012 Olympics was billed as the day Usain Bolt, one of the greatest athletes this world has ever known, could cement an immeasurable legacy on track and field.
Bolt duly delivered his fifth Olympic title to date, becoming the first athlete ever to complete the double double—victories in both the 100-metre and 200-metre—in successive Games. A feat completed in astonishing sprinting displays, despite concerns over the Jamaican's fitness leading up to the games. Bolt clocked 9.63 seconds in the 100, the second fastest time in history, while achieving the third fastest time (19.32) ever in the 200.
Bolt's star is at an all time high. Already an athlete of incredible universal appeal at all corners of the globe, his status among the sporting world is now unquestioned—he is simply a legend of sporting history, not just in the athletic arena.
The irrepressible 25-year-old's performances have put to rest any suggestion that credible rivals such as Yohan Blake, Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay can beat him when he is anywhere near full fitness and top form. He has let his displays do the talking, and in emphatic fashion at that.
Tonight's 200-metre victory was, bar Blake's valiant effort in taking silver, a rout. In taking double silver, compatriot Blake has reinforced himself as the only man capable of capitalizing on any Bolt mistake or injury—as unlikely as they are. But Blake aside, the rest are also-rans when in Bolt's company.
His start was, for once, blistering. Bend, superb. And transition into the straight, majestic.
It was a great Olympic performance from arguably one of the greatest Olympians.
There is, however, a 23-year-old from Kenya who also continues to dominate his discipline of choice. David Rudisha added the 800-metre Olympic gold to his World Championship win in Daegu last year.
In what was championed as the 'Greatest 800-metre race in history', Rudisha led from the gun, pulling his competitors along at a blistering pace—running 23 seconds for the first 200.
At 600 metres the gap had grown, with Rudisha well and truly pounding such a high-class field into submission. The Kenyan strode away in the home straight to clock a new world record of 1:40:91—becoming the first man in history to run under the 1:41 minute barrier.
It was quite simply a masterclass of middle distance running. A great indicator into the just the quality of opponents he beat, is that all but one of the finalists clocked personal bests behind Rudisha's world record run—the other ran a season's best for good measure.
So my question is who was the real star of Day 13 of the 2012 Games?
Well undoubtedly the way in which Bolt achieved such a magnificent feat was worthy of the status that now befits him. But for me, the manner in which Rudisha ground such a field—and produced the greatest 800 performance ever seen—was a truly masterful display of tactical nous and raw speed endurance.
While Bolt will unquestionably be the talk of the papers tomorrow, maybe just for once he came off second best.
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