magnificent repeat performance
• On the magical night when
Usain Bolt and his compatriots took the 200 meters
by storm, and Kenya’s Rudisha broke the 800-meter
record, Cuba’s Leonel Suárez won a bronze medal in
the decathlon, a repeat of his Beijing 2008
Ariel B. Coya
LONDON.— If repetition counts as confirmation,
Usain Bolt’s knows no limits, David Rudisha is a
phenomenon and Leonel Suárez a winner, as he made
clear in Stratford Olympic Stadium, August 9.
The decathlon story was playing out as predicted.
With the two U.S. aces, Ashton Eaton, world record
holder with 9,039 points and World Champion Trey
Hardee in a different category, the struggle among
the rest was for the bronze medal. Thus Leonel
showed that a great athlete is one who can take the
pressure, no matter how badly things are going, and
never give up. Just the formula he needed to repeat
his Beijing 2008 and Daegu 2011 performances.
What he accomplished was, quite simply,
admirable. Starting out as 26th after the 100 meters
(11.27s), he moved up to 14th place with his long
jump (7.52m, a personal record), then on to 7th
after the high jump (2.11m). His 49.04 seconds in
the 400 meters took him up one more spot and his
excellent javelin throw (76.94) into third place. He
was able to maintain that position through the
1,500-meter race, holding off the final push by
Belgium’s Van Alphen (8,447). He finished as one of
only three competitors with a total over 8,500
points. His 8,523 score was just four points below
his Beijing total.
With good cause, he commented, "I’m happy and
satisfied to win this medal again in such a
difficult competition, given the level of the U.S.
athletes, and after all my problems with injuries
and blood pressure that impacted my training this
year. So the goal now is to improve on this score,
maybe surpass 9,000 points… But this medal is
THE PERFECT STORM
As for phenomena, seeing Usain Bolt coming around
the curve in the 200 meters left many wondering how
so much muscle, a man of 205 pounds, 1.96 meters
tall, could move so fast, defying the laws of
physics, taking strides of 2.7 meters.
No other athlete has been able to win the
200-meter Olympic race twice. Not
Carl Lewis or Michael Johnson… But Bolt had
predicted it, "The 200 is my favorite event, where I
put in the most work. I’m not going to let anyone
take it from me easily. When Blake beat me in the
trials in Jamaica, the alarms went off. I won’t let
it happen again. If I want to be close to a legend,
I have to defend my three golds from Beijing."
And he didn’t let anyone down. Once again the
race was an impressive one-man show. Bolt vs. Bolt,
in a duel with the clock, running against his own
record. If no new record was established this time,
that was simply because he took a slower start, not
wanting to show off and because, into the last 20
meters, he looked to the side and saw he was alone.
His strong finish and formidable performance will
contribute to his legendary status.
The results: First, Usain Bolt (19.32), a
lightning bolt. Then, Yohan Blake (19.44), followed
by Warren Weir (19.84), two rolls of thunder. The
podium captured by Jamaica in a perfect storm.
RUDISHA BEATS RUDISHA
Bolt’s magical night was, however, preceded by
David Rudisha’s magic afternoon. The fantastic
Kenyan, "the pride of Africa", surpassed his own
record, and everyone else, in the 800 meters, with a
time of 1:40.91 minutes.
Rudisha shaved a tenth of a second off the record
he set August 29 in Rieti, Italy, to establish the
first athletics record of these Summer Games,
surpassing Vebjorn Rodal’s Olympic record of
1:42.58, set in Atlanta 1996.
With two former champions looking on, Cuba’s
Alberto Juantorena and Sebastian Coe from the UK,
six of the seven competitors, inspired by Rudisha,
set their own personal records, including runner-up
Nije Amos, who won Botswana its first Olympic medal,
coming in just ahead of another Kenyan, Timothy
In the men’s triple jump, Cuba’s Alexis Copello
could not improve on his first attempt of 16.92
meters. With three faults, he finished eighth in a
final dominated by Christian Taylor (17.81) and Will
Claye (17.62) from the United States.
Another promising Cuban, Rose Mary Almanza,
(2:01.70) didn’t make the 800- meter final.