André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
Usain, Yohan give Jamaica birthday gift
LONDON, England:Ernesto might have spared Jamaica, for the most part, but the world felt the effects of 'Hurricane Bolt' when Jamaican superstar Usain Bolt successfully defended his Olympic 100m title, sprinting to an Olympic record 9.63, as Jamaica booked its third and fourth medals at these games - the perfect gift to a nation celebrating its 50th year of Independence today.
"It's wonderful, it's a wonderful feeling to give Jamaica a gold medal and defend my title, and I know that everybody is happy and tomorrow (today) when the national anthem is played, I think it will be even greater for all of us," said an elated Bolt after his race.
World Champion Yohan Blake equalled his personal best 9.75 to win the silver medal ahead of American Justin Gatlin, who recorded a 9.79 clocking and the youngster also had a special birthday wish for his homeland.
"Jamaica we 'likkle but we tallawah', it's been great and tomorrow (today) is going to be a special moment for us on the podium," said Blake, who joins Herb McKenley (1952), Lennox Miller (1968) and Donald Quarrie (1976) as Olympic 100m silver medallists.
Asafa Powell, who aggravated his injured groin, pulled up midway in the race, which was the fastest 100m in Olympic history with seven sprinters dipping below 10 seconds and five breaking the 9.90 seconds mark.
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Bolt, who described the win as one of his most fulfilling, became the third athlete to win back-to-back Olympic 100m titles after Archie Hahn and Carl Lewis, however Hahn's titles came two years apart in 1904 and 1906 while Lewis, who won in 1984 and 1988, was handed his second title after Ben Johnson was stripped of his gold medal for a doping violation.
"I was really under a lot of pressure, so after the trials, I went to the coach and we sat down and talked; he told me not to worry and that he knew what was the problem and that as long as I fixed my back problem, I will be OK," Bolt said.
The triple world-record holder also joined illustrious company, with Jamaican legends Herb McKenley and Arthur Wint as the most successful male Jamaican Olympians, with three individual medals each.
"This is news to me, but that's an honour. These guys are legends and folks that we look up to in Jamaica and also for me it's an honour to be in the books with these guys," said Bolt, who can become the most successful Jamaican male Olympian in terms of individual medals, with a podium finish in the 200m.
All eyes on 200m
The pair will now turn their attention to the 200m, which starts tomorrow with the heats.
Bolt is one step away from achieving his dream of retaining both of his Olympic titles, a feat which if achieved, he thinks will rank him among the legends of the sport.
With Blake in earshot, and with a big laugh between the two, the defending 200m champion warned, "He (Blake) is saying a few things about the 200m, but I told him after the trials that he will not beat me over the 200m so he has a lot more work to do because that's my main event and that's what I do and I will not let myself down."
He did have some encouraging words for his training partner though.
"Blake is great, he executed that race well and over the years he can only get better."
Jamaica will be looking to add to the tally as Leford Green runs in the men's 400m hurdles final at 8:45 p.m. (2:45 p.m. Jamaica time), while the heats of the women's 100m hurdles and 200m get under way.
Jason Morgan and Traves Smikle are also to particicpate in discus qualifying while Kaliese Spencer, Melaine Walker and Nickiesha Wilson will feature in the women's 400m hurdles semi-finals.