Photo: Usain Bolt smiles after crossing the finish line first to secure his third consecutive 100m Olympic gold medal. (Getty Images)
Usain Bolt treated the entire Maracanã Stadium and the world, who paused to witness the star in pursuit of Olympic history, to a magical moment of track and field glory. Millions of fan and supporters around the world were glued to their television screens or whatever device they saw fit, to witness every moment of the 100m final.
They watched keenly the defending champion, from his usual animations at the start to the chest pat and pointing of his index finger to the sky as he crossed the finish line.
The world record holder, became the first man in the history of the Olympic Games to win the 100-meter final in three consecutive Olympics, blazing to the finish line at the Olympic Stadium in 9.81 seconds. The USA’s Justin Gatlin was second in 9.89 seconds, and Andre De Grasse of Canada grabbing the bronze medal in a personal-best effort of 9.91 seconds.
The writing was on the wall from the semifinal; after a confident display to capture his heat in 9.86 seconds, but many fans had their hearts in their mouths as Gatlin led the race for the first fifty meters. As he is know to do however, Bolt produced his expected mid-race surge to go past the American, increasing his lead with every stride towards the finish line, before thumping his chest in triumph a meter before the line.
Bolt had done it, completing the first of the trifecta that he came to Rio to accomplish. Now he will turn his attention to his favourite, the 200m and few will doubt that he will get the job done there.
"After the semi-final, I felt extremely good," Bolt told the BBC in his post race interview. "I wanted to run faster but with the turnaround time - we normally have two hours but we had one hour, 20 minutes - it was challenging. This is what we train for. I told you guys I was going to do it. Stay tuned, two more to go,” he informed.
Bolt quest for the triple-peat will continue on Tuesday when he starts competition in the 200, the event he won in the last two Olympics, and will go for a triple-triple of winning the 100, the 200 and the 400-meter relay in three straight Games.
Teammate and training partner Yohan Blake, running from lane eight was fourth in a season best of 9.93 seconds.
The women’s 400m final will feature two of the three Jamaicans in Shericka Jackson and Stephenie Ann McPherson. The 2015 World Championship bronze medalist won her semifinal in a new personal best 49.83, much to her own delight having seen the flash time on the clock coming across the line. McPherson was second in her semifinal in 50.69 seconds behind the USA’s Phyllis Francis in 50.31 seconds.
A gallant effort of 51.53 seconds wasn’t good enough too see Christine Day pass the stern test she had in the third semifinals. The race was won by USA’s Allyson Felix in a season best and leading qualifying time of 49.67 seconds ahead of Bahamian Shaunae Miller in 49.91 seconds.
Jackson will fancy her chances of toppling the leading two, having been drawn on the inside in lane five, where she is able to see the World Championship silver medalist Miller in seven and her team mate McPherson in eight
Only two Jamaicans in Shericka Williams at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China, who won the silver medal in a personal-best time of 49.69 seconds and national record holder Lorraine Fenton who also pocketed silver at Sydney 2002 where she set the Jamaican record in 40 m with 49.30 seconds have won medals at the Olympics in this event.
The women’s finals will run off at 8:45 Jamaican time as the nation awaits an addition to the current medal tally of two golds and one bronze medals to be ranked at 26th on the medal table