LONDON - In a race that lived up to its billing as the glamour event of the Games, Jamaica’s Usain Bolt defended his Olympic title in the 100 meters in stunning fashion, beating a star-studded field to gold in an Olympic record of 9.63 seconds Sunday night at Olympic Stadium.
Countryman and training partner Yohan Blake took home the silver in 9.75 seconds and American Justin Gatlin the bronze (9.79).
Gatlin's US teammates, former world champion Tyson Gay (9.80) and Ryan Bailey (9.88), finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
Bolt has had trouble getting out the blocks, but that wasn't an issue when it counted the most. "My coach told me to stop worrying about the start and concentrate on the end because that's my best," he said.
And the fastest man in the world had the crowd clearly in his corner. "It was wonderful,'' said Bolt, who's up again Thursday in the 200 meters, which he also won in Beijing in 2008. "I knew it was going to be like this. There wasn't a doubt in my mind it was going to be like this."
It was a satisfying bronze for Gatlin, the 2004 gold medalist in Athens who is back in the Games after serving a four-year ban for doping.
"It feels great to be back after eight years,'' he said. "Simply just to come back and use my God-given talent. I went out there and did the best I could.''
As for Gay ( "I really tried to do it for my family, man, but I came off short,'' he said) his sights are set on the chance to possibly chase down Bolt in the 200.
"I just want to be in the final with him and try to go,'' said Gay
who shed tears after missing the podium. "I have no excuses. I gave my all. Everybody came together and made me the best I can be. I tried my best.''