MOSCOW — His legs were hurting, the rain was pouring and he was trailing late in the race. Doesn’t matter. This is Usain Bolt.
And nothing gets in the way of him and first place, especially when he’s driven as he was Sunday night in the 100-meter final at the world championships.
Bolt blew by Justin Gatlin with about 30 meters to go and never glanced back. He also didn’t even crack a smile when he crossed the finish line because this took a lot more work than the world’s fastest sprinter usually needs.
Gatlin was second and Bolt’s Jamaican teammate Nesta Carter took third.
Of all Bolt’s titles, this one will have a special meaning, considering he false-started two years ago in the final to lose his crown.
Now, it’s his again.
“It’s always great to get back your title,” said Bolt, who won in 9.77 seconds. “I’m happy with myself. I got it done.”
Like Bolt, Brittney Reese and Ashton Eaton were just as dominant. Reese won her third straight long jump gold, while Eaton now owns the world and Olympic decathlon titles.
Fredonia native and current Olympic champion Jenn Suhr qualified for Tuesday’s finals in the women’s pole vault. She cleared (13 feet, 1½ inches) in her second attempt to advance.
Many of Bolt’s top rivals were missing. Gone were Tyson Gay (doping offense) and Jamaican teammate Yohan Blake, who was the reigning champion but skipped the worlds because of an injured hamstring.
Shortly after the race, Bolt sauntered around the track with his country’s flag tied around his neck like a cape. These days, he has to be the Superman of his sport. Given all the recent doping scandals, track needs someone to save the day.
For now, he will settle for blowing away the dark cloud over his country, a proud sprinting nation. Some of Jamaica’s most decorated sprinters have taken a fall: Asafa Powell, Sherone Simpson and Veronica Campbell-Brown all tested positive for a banned substance and weren’t at the worlds, which end next Sunday.
“I’m just doing my part by running fast, winning titles and letting the world know you can do it clean,” Bolt said. “My focus is to continue doing what I do.”
The morning session featured few surprises. The Americans were in solid position for a medals sweep today in the men’s 110-meter hurdles, as four cruised through their heats.