Sunday, August 17, 2008

BEIJING | An hour after breaking his own world record and becoming the Olympic champion in the 100 meters, Jamaica’s Usain Bolt revealed his ordinary preparation for Saturday’s two races at the Bird’s Nest.

No breakfast.

Slept in until 11 a.m.

Ate chicken nuggets from McDonald’s.

Went back to bed for two hours.

Ate more chicken nuggets from McDonald’s.

Won a gold medal.

Breaking the mark he set in New York earlier this summer, Bolt ran a 9.69-second race, although he spent the last six strides with his palms toward the sky, his eyes trained on the crowd of nearly 90,000 and finally, a pound of his chest as he crossed the line. The 6-foot-5 Bolt’s effort could rank among the best in Olympic track history.

”I could see him slowing down, and here I am still pumping to the line,” said runner-up Richard Thompson of Trinidad and Tobago. “I don’t think there’s anyway anybody would have beaten that kind of run tonight.”

The .20-second margin of victory is the largest since Carl Lewis won by the same time at the 1984 Olympics.

Thompson and six other competitors didn’t come close to Bolt. American Tyson Gay didn’t earn the chance.

The winner at last year’s world championships, Gay reached the semifinals and finished fifth in his heat.

“I’ve been telling Tyson all season that I was really looking forward to competing against him,” Bolt said. “If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best, and I wanted Tyson in that final.”

Walter Dix of the United States claimed bronze and Darvis Patton finished eighth.

Gay injured his hamstring in the finals of the 200 meters at the U.S. trials. He had not competed in a race until Friday’s heat events. In the semifinals, he ran a 10.05 and now has only one chance at Olympic gold, in the 4x100 meter relay.

“Toward the finish line, I couldn’t tell if I had made it to the finals or not,” Gay said. “I looked up and realized I didn’t. It was kind of devastating. I may have needed more [pre-Olympic] races, but I don’t really have any excuses. I just didn’t make it.

“It’s obvious that my fitness is not there. I think my mechanics weren’t where I wanted them to be.”

With Gay gone, the race became a duel between countrymen Bolt and Asafa Powell. But Powell finished fifth.

As the fastest qualifier, Bolt started in lane 4 in good order, something was a pre-Olympic focus for him.

“We’ve been working hard all season on my first 30,” he said. “That’s been my real trouble. But I went out there and executed.”

Thompson started to Bolt’s right and successfully kept up with the long-strider for the first half of the race.

“After 50 meters, I could see him pulling way,” he said.

Even though they’ve developed fine sprinters for years, Jamaica had yet to win a gold in track’s showcase event. The previous best finish was by Don Quarrie (silver) in 1976.

Bolt, who lists the 200 as his best event, goes for the double. The last man to do the 100-200 sweep in a non-boycott Olympics was the Soviet Union’s Valeriy Borzov in 1972.

“We were trying to see if I could take all the rounds,” Bolt said of attempting the 100. “I was working hard leading into the Olympics, and I showed I could do both races so my coach said, ‘Yeah, let’s do it.’”

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