Usain Bolt wins 3rd Olympic gold in 100m, defeats US by .08 seconds

Jamaica's Usain Bolt prepares to start a round one heat of the men’s 200m at the World Athletics Championships at the Bird's Nest stadium in Beijing, Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

RIO DE JANEIRO (NBC News) – When Usain Bolt came out for the 100-meter final sporting sharp new threads, that was probably a good sign.

For him, anyway. When the world’s fastest man is swaggering around the stadium, it usually means everyone else is running for second place.

Bolt’s time of 9.81 seconds on Sunday night wasn’t as fast as the Olympic record he set last time out, but it was good enough to make him the first three-time champion in track’s marquee event.

Asked about his penchant for playing to the crowd, Bolt said “It goes together,” adding that he couldn’t imagine competing without having fun.

That includes the signature “To Di World” pose he hit after winning Sunday night just like he did in Beijing and London.

Never one of the sport’s fastest starters, Bolt ran down the field Sunday night to finish in 9.81 seconds. American Justin Gatlin was second in 9.89 and Andre De Grasse of Canada was third in 9.91.

Running from Lane 6, Bolt was behind Gatlin’s strong start but came on in the second half of the race, eventually moving ahead for the final 30 meters or so on the Rio Olympic Stadium’s azure track.

“I knew all I had to do was stay cool,” Bolt said. “I felt super everything in the semifinals … The final took a little time but I got it done.”

Bolt, who easily won his semifinal earlier Sunday, came out for the main event in a sharp new kit that was yellow on his right side and solid black on his left. Teammate Yohan Blake remained in the usual Jamaica togs.

Whatever he worse, it was all a blur to everyone else hoping to dethrone the sprint king, who has never been beaten by anyone but himself in a major 100 meter race. His false start in the 2011 world championships is the only blemish on his record since he burst onto the scene at the 2008 Olympics.

In the leadup to the Games, there had been talk of a hamstring injury that may have affected Bolt. But the 29-year-old looked just fine once he got to the track, making short work of his rivals yet again.

Gatlin, who has served two doping bans, one on either side of his 2004 Olympic title in this event, improved on his bronze from 2012, beating everyone but Bolt. Blake, the 2012 silver medalist, was fourth in 9.93 on Sunday.

Blake was followed by South Africa’s Akani Simbine (9.94), Ivory Coast’s Ben Youssef Meite (9.96), France’s Jimmy Micaut (10.04), and the USA’s Trayvon Bromell (10.06).

Bromell, the bronze medalist at the 2015 world championships, ran a 10.01 in his semifinal. His personal best of 9.84 would have earned him silver on Sunday night.

After finishing, Bolt carried a stuffed Olympic mascot figure around and posed with the sign on the track showing his name and time. He’s feeling good and there are more medals to win.
The Jamaican is now a perfect seven for seven in Olympic sprints, with the 200 yet to come. Qualifying begins Tuesday and the final is Thursday night. And Bolt plans to run for Jamaica in the 4×100 meter relay, too, going for their third straight gold.

“That’s the plan,” Bolt said. “Three.”

Earlier, Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa ran away with the men’s 400 meter gold medal Sunday night, beating out the last two Olympic champions and setting a world record of 43.03

Defending champion Kirani James of Grenada was second in 43.76 and LaShawn Merritt of the USA stumbled over the finish line in third, with a 43.85.

Also Sunday night, Caterine Ibarguen of Colombia won the triple jump over Yulimar Rochas of Venezuela and defending champion Olga Rypakova of Kazakhstan.

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