Bolt strikes for 100m gold
WAS it ever in doubt? It didn't look like it in east London tonight, when the greatest sprinter there has ever been came streaking down the track like, well like only he has ever done, taking yet another giant stride towards immortality.
"He's lost it." … "He's not committed enough." The words have been reverberating around Stratford, and the world, over the last few weeks. He should have had them printed on the back of his vest, the only bit of him the pretenders to his throne laid their eyes on. 9.63 was the time. Not a world record, but an Olympic one. His training partner, and chief challenger Yohan Blake came in second, but from 30 metres, there was no doubt. He didn't swagger over the line this time, pumping his chest, as he did in Beijing four years ago, but he probably could have afforded to - just.
There is no script of course, but it was unquestionably the ending the 80,000 crowd wanted. When the 25-year-old Jamaican emerged the roar was as loud as any that has greeted Jessica Ennis or Mo Farah in this unforgettable arena. But then, there were no Brits to cheer for. The veteran Dwain Chambers and the 18-year-old Adam Gemili missed out on qualifying by two hundredths of a second.
Finishing in second, Blake's time of 9.75 was a personal best, while Justin Gatlin, who served a four-year drugs ban in 2006, narrowly finished ahead of his US teammate, Tyson Gay, in third place with a personal best time of 9.79. Seven out of the eight starters finished under 10 seconds with the injured Asafa Powell finishing in 11.99.
Earlier, spectators holding the London 2012 equivalent of Willy Wonka's golden ticket had arrived in a state of eager anticipation. The ticket ballot for the blue riband event was 10 times oversubscribed.
Rod Fellowes, 53, a computer consultant from Newport, Virginia, waved his distinctive purple ticket triumphantly as he arrived at the arena, having flown overnight across the Atlantic. A self-confessed "athletics nutjob", he said: "I'm so completely delighted to be here. It's been my dream for many, many years to watch the Olympic 100 metres. It will be the ride of my life."
Others not quite so fortunate in the ticket lottery were willing to try more unconventional means, including a pair of attractive young women holding up a sign reading: "Take me with you for free - ticket wanted."
There was resentment that despite an undertaking from organisers that 75 per cent of Olympic tickets would be sold to the British public, fewer than one in two of those in the stadium last night were from the host nation.
Jackie Doherty, 23, from Maidstone, Kent, who had been to watch basketball, said: "Like most people here I would give my eye teeth for a seat in there tonight. Having spent £9bn of public money on this I'd have thought we could be a bit more greedy on getting the British public in there."
Tickets were being sold for £1,500 on websites including eBay and Craigslist. One man entering the top-priced AA seating area, declined to give his name. He said: "I can't tell you because if my wife finds out how much I paid for this ticket she'll have my head on a plate. I bought it last week after the Opening Ceremony - I just had to be here. Put it like this, I won't be buying a Porsche any time soon."
Men's 100m final:
- Usain Bolt (JAM) - 9.63 Olympic record
- Yohan Blake (JAM) - 9.75 =Personal best
- Justin Gatlin (USA) - 9.79 Personal best
- Tyson Gay (USA) - 9.80 Season's best
- Ryan Bailey (USA) - 9.88 =Personal best
- Churandy Martina (NED) - 9.94
- Richard Thompson (TRI) - 9.98
- Asafa Powell (JAM) - 11.99