Usain Bolt bows out with his ‘triple-triple’ as Jamaica win 4x100 relay
Bolt wins ninth Olympic gold medal in what he has said will be his last ever Olympic race
Usain Bolt made it a triple-triple, leading Jamaica to victory in the 4x100 metre relay Friday night and winning a third gold medal for the third consecutive Olympics.
In what he said would be his last Olympic race, Bolt, 29, anchored the team to victory in 37.27 seconds, adding another gold medal to his victories in the 100 and 200 meters.
Bolt was joined in the victory by three others from the deep Jamaican sprint corps: the veteran former 100 world record holder Asafa Powell, the London 100 and 200 silver medalist Yohan Blake, and Nickel Ashmeade.
Japan won the silver, and the United States finished in third - but were subsequently disqualified (for taking the baton outside of the takeover zone) meaning that Canada took the bronze in fourth.
“I just have mixed feelings now,” Bolt told reporters. “Relief. I’ve had all this pressure over the years... I will definitely miss the sport, miss the Olympics because it’s the biggest stage.
“Not going to miss these interviews. I’ve done like 500 since I’ve been here. But I’m definitely going to miss the crowd and the energy and just the competition.
“I love competing. So I’m going to miss all of that. But it’s been a great career, I’ve done all I can do. I’ve proven to the world I’m the greatest in the sport, so it’s mission accomplished pretty much.”
For Bolt, it was a particular pleasure to sign off with former world record holder Asafa Powell, his training partner Yohan Blake and Nickel Ashmeade as part of a team representing their country.
“I love competing with the team, because in this sport you’re always by yourself, so competing with four of the best in Jamaica is always wonderful,” he added.
“I try to live up to my country’s needs and I’ve always tried to be the best ambassador I can be for my country...
“I’ll continue doing that even after I retire from sport, I’ll continue to uplift my country.”
There are fears that without by far its best known name and with the doping scandal continuing to hang over it like a black cloud, the sport of athletics may spiral into a serious decline.
Bolt, who has never failed a dope test unlike five athletes in just the American and Jamaican teams in Friday’s relay final, had a more upbeat assessment.
“I think we’ve been through some rough patches but we’re on the right track with the youngsters that we have,” he said.
“We only can go up now, the bad times are behind us... we just put the bad times behind us and move forward, but I think we’re going in the right direction now.”
As for the future for Bolt himself, he said he was looking forward to getting “a lot of love” when he gets back to Jamaica and would then start thinking about his post-athletics life.
“I have to make a new bucket list now,” he said. “I’ve accomplished what I wanted to in track and field. I just have to make new goals and a new bucket list but first I just want to go on vacation and relax.”
The world’s fastest man, who celebrates his 30th birthday on Sunday, signed off from his sport’s biggest stage in trademark fashion as he took the baton from Ashmeade and, knees high and arms pumping, stormed away from second-placed Japan to huge cheers from the Rio crowd. If anyone deserves that vacation he does.
NYT and wire services