Rio de Janeiro, Aug 15 (IANS) Star Jamaican athlete Usain Bolt wrote his name in the history books, winning his third consecutive Olympic title in the men’s 100-metre event at the Rio Games here.
The multiple Olympic champions powered to victory in 9.81 seconds here on Sunday.
It was, however, one of the tightest races that Bolt has run during his legendary career.
American star Justin Gatlin — Bolt’s biggest rival in the competition — was the leader until the closing stages before the Jamaican started to pull away, and had to settle for the silver with an impressive 9.84 seconds.
Andre de Grasse of Canada took bronze with a time of 9.91 seconds.
Sunday’s result saw Bolt win his third successive Olympic gold in the iconic men’s 100m event following his triumphs at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2012 Games in London.
It also cemented his status as one of the greatest sportsmen the world has ever seen.
This is also the first step towards Bolt’s target of repeating his 100m, 200m and 4x100m victories at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Games.
It was the sweet culmination of a difficult season for Bolt with a hamstring injury and lack of form raising questions on his ability to defend his Olympic titles.
The injury had forced Bolt to skip the national Olympic trials in Jamaica. But the Jamaican legend roared back to form last month by winning the 200m at the Anniversary Games in London.
The 29-year-old praised the crowd in the Olympic Stadium after the race.
“It’s unbelievable, the energy they gave me, it’s just great,” he was quoted as saying by the official website of the Rio Games.
“It felt like I was in a football stadium. Thanks for your support, keep on supporting me, I have two more races to go, so watch out,” he added.
“Jamaica stand up. This for you, my people.”
Earlier, Bolt had cruised through the morning heats and then ran the fastest time in the semi-finals.
The legendary athlete silenced all doubts over his form with a brisk 9.86 seconds to win the second semi-final in the event. True to his trademark languid style, Bolt seemed to ease off in the final 10 metres but still had enough time to look around to ensure he comfortably beat the rest of the field.
Andre de Grasse was the other athlete in the group to book a spot in the final with 9.92 seconds.
Gatlin of the US also went through to the final with a time of 9.94 seconds in the third semi-final while fellow Jamaican Yohan Blake also went through with 10.1.
The first semi-final was won by France’s Jimmy Vicaut in 9.95 seconds.