Usain Bolt made it look easy in making more history, winning the 200 meters in 19.66 seconds at the World Championships on Saturday.
Bolt, 26, became the first man to win three world titles in the 200 and remained undefeated over the distance at major international championships since his first Olympic gold in the event in 2008.
Bolt breezed past medal threat Adam Gemili of Great Britain on the turn and then slowed on the final straight so much so that silver medalist Warren Weir cut into Bolt’s winning margin. Weir was never a threat of passing Bolt in the final meters, though.
“I said that I want to be remembered like (Muhammad) Ali, Pele and the greats,” Bolt said, according to the Jamaica Gleaner. “This is another step towards that.”
Bolt’s winning time was by far his slowest at an Olympic or worlds final. His world record is 19.19, set at the 2009 World Championships. His slowest previous final was the 2011 worlds, where he won in 19.40 seconds.
Weir, the Olympic bronze medalist, won silver, matching his personal best of 19.79 seconds. American Curtis Mitchell earned bronze in 20.04, his first major international medal. (full results below)
“I just had to use all heart coming down the straight,” Mitchell told NBC Sports reporter Lewis Johnson. “For me to come out here and get a medal, it’s unbelievable.”
The final lacked the reigning Olympic silver medalist, the injured Yohan Blake, the defending world silver and bronze medalists, the injured Walter Dix and Christophe Lemaitre, as well as Americans Tyson Gay (failed drug tests) and Justin Gatlin (opted out of the 200 at nationals).
Bolt celebrated by taking a photographer’s camera and appearing to snap photos, just as he did at the 2012 Olympics. He and Weir danced to Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds,” according to The Associated Press. Bolt also wished good luck to each of his other seven competitors before the final.
The Jamaican now owns nine career world medals, second among men only to Carl Lewis‘ 10. His seven career world golds only trail Lewis and Michael Johnson (both have eight) among men.
The 19.66 matched Bolt’s 10th fastest time ever and Johnson’s first world record set in 1996, before Johnson reset it with a 19.32 in the Olympic final. Johnson is commentating for the BBC in Moscow this week.
Bolt can match both of those records as part of Jamaica’s 4×100 relay team on the final day of worlds Sunday. Jamaica hasn’t lost the 4×100 relay at a worlds or Olympics since 2007.
“I never get tired of shouldering the expectations of millions,” Bolt said, according to the Gleaner. “It keeps me going, I welcome it.”
Gold: Usain Bolt (JAM) 19.66
Silver: Warren Weir (JAM) 19.79
Bronze: Curtis Mitchell (USA) 20.04
4. Nickel Ashmeade (JAM) 20.05
5. Adam Gemili (GBR) 20.08
6. Anaso Jobodwana (RSA) 20.14
7. Churandy Martina (NED) 20.35
8. Jaysuma Saidy Ndure (NOR) 20.37