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Usain Bolt blazes to gold in the 200, his final individual event in Olympics

USA TODAY USA TODAY 19/08/2016 Martin Rogers
Usain Bolt from Jamaica celebrates after crossing the line to win the gold medal in the men's 200-meter final during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro. © Lee Jin-man/ASSOCIATED PRESS/AP Images Usain Bolt from Jamaica celebrates after crossing the line to win the gold medal in the men's 200-meter final during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro.

Usain Bolt did it again. Of course he did. There was no world record, because the damp, cool, Olympic Stadium track took that out of the equation.

But in his last individual Olympic race Bolt grabbed his eighth gold medal and his third in a row in his beloved 200 meters.

More than anything, he did it in his own inimitable style.

There was the laughter, the showmanship, the exhilarated, joyous, infectious celebrations. And there was the raw speed, the kind of natural yet finely honed pace that no one has matched.

The Jamaican sprint king blitzed the field with a lightning start, a seamless turn and a powerful finish to come home in 19.78 seconds, beating out Andre De Grasse (20.02) of Canada and surprise bronze medalist Christophe Lemaitre (20.12) of France.

Usain Bolt celebrates after winning the Men's 200m final. © Reuters/David Gray Usain Bolt celebrates after winning the Men's 200m final.

“I wasn’t happy with the time when I crossed the line, but I’m excited I got the medal, that’s the key thing,” Bolt said. “The fact that I came here and I executed what I wanted is a brilliant feeling.”

In reality, the result was beyond doubt once the first 50 meters had been swallowed up by Bolt’s giant strides. Perfect preparation led to a comfortable triumph. Businesslike is the last word you should ever use to describe him, he is far too interesting for that. But there is a routine that he knows and loves and is accustomed to. Why change it, when it has brought so much success.

Around 40 minutes before liftoff he was out on the warm-up track, about the only time he is ever poker faced, practicing his turns under the guiding eye of trainer Glen Mills.

Then, in the tunnel, the jocular Bolt returning, laughing, gently teasing, and wishing his rivals good luck. In reality, luck had nothing to do with it.

The world has never seen a greater exponent of sprinting dominance and it showed, right from the first stride through to the moment when he broke the imaginary tape.

Moments later he let out a guttural scream. Soon after, he pointed to his chest and mouthed “No. 1.” Then he was taking selfies with Jamaican fans. Then, finally, his signature Lightning Bolt pose. The crowd lapped it all up. He has lit up Rio just like he did with Beijing and London, a one-man show that you can’t take your eyes off.

Barring some kind of baton-dropping mishap in the relay Bolt will end his Olympic career with nine gold medals, essentially perfection, if you discount his elimination in the 200 heats in 2004 as a raw and injured 17-year-old.

It has been perfect, all of it, perfectly poised, perfectly entertaining, and on this night capped, as always, with a perfect smile.

We won’t see Bolt at another Olympics he says, and everyone will have their own favorite memories of him. Really we should remember him the way his rivals do, a blur, blisteringly quick yet somehow effortless with it, drifting into the distance.

“Fast,” said Churandy Martina of the Netherlands, who finished fifth. “Just so, so fast.”

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