ON this day, August 14 2016, Usain Bolt won the men’s Olympic 100 metres final for an unprecedented third time.
The victory underlined what was effectively already known – the sport’s greatest showman was also its best ever.
At 29, Bolt had seen his supremacy challenged in the build-up to the Games. His best time of the year prior to Rio, 9.88 seconds set in Kingston, was only the fourth best, with Justin Gatlin appearing in better form.
But Bolt’s semi-final winning time of 9.86 seconds in Rio was the fastest by anybody, and the Jamaican went into the final with a sense of expectation on his shoulders.
He would be slow to get out of the blocks, slower than Gatlin, but Bolt had the power to surge through in the final 60 metres and win what was then his seventh Olympic gold medal – though he would later be stripped of his 2008 relay gold due to a doping violation by team-mate Nesta Carter.
The winning time of 9.81 seconds was a long way from the world record of 9.58 he had set seven years earlier – a mark which still stands – suggesting Bolt had been right to declare before the Games that they would be his last.
“It wasn’t perfect today, but I got it done and I’m pretty proud of what I’ve achieved,” said Bolt, who beat Gatlin by 0.08seconds with Andre de Grasse of Canada in third I expected to go faster, but I’m happy that I won. I did what I had to.”
Bolt would go on to add to the 200m title and the 4x100m relay title to his collection in Rio.
He did end his career as planned after the 2017 world championships, though he did not go out on the note he might have hoped.
He settled for bronze in the 100m final, and then pulled up with a hamstring injury in the 4x100m relay final – being helped over the line for the final time in his career by team-mates Omar McLeod, Julian Forte, and Yohan Blake. (PA Sport)