Usain Bolt completes his indelible Olympic legacy
By Beya Kabelu in Rio de Janeiro
Last Updated: 21/08/16 4:20pm
Usain Bolt confirmed his status as an Olympic legend by completing a 'triple triple' at the Rio Games. Our man Beya Kabelu was in Brazil to see how it unfolded...
The smile as he crossed the finishing line, the signature lightning bolt celebration, the kiss of the track - Bolt provided his final Olympics with several lasting images.
And when the Rio Games has ended and the torch has been put out, Bolt's legacy as the world's greatest sprinter - and perhaps the greatest Olympian of all time - will have been firmly cemented.
The time the Jamaican actually spent on the track is eclipsed by the legend he has built during the past fortnight and in the years that preceded it.
Victory in the 4x100m brought down the curtain on Bolt's spectacular Olympic career and he sprinted into retirement with an unprecedented 'triple-triple,' his ninth gold medal over the course of three back-to-back Olympics after sweeping the titles in Beijing and London.
Bolt's journey to greatness was not without doubt and early questions were raised as he sluggishly won in his opening 100m race.
However, in the semi-finals he eased to victory and in the process produced one of the most iconic images in sports history; Bolt's smile in the direction of photographers whilst moving away from competitors will forever be immortalised.
In the final, the 30-year-old pit his wits against American rival Justin Gaitlin and despite being slow out of the blocks, victory never looked in doubt as Bolt secured his seventh Olympic gold, becoming the first athlete to win 100m gold on three occasions.
After claiming the 100m crown, Bolt turned his attention to his favoured event, the 200m, in which he vowed to break the 19-second barrier and set a new world record.
Ever the showman, Bolt delighted the crowd with some play-acting and dancing. He then blew away Canada's young pretender Andre DeGrasse, as well as the rest of the field, in an emphatic victory.
His charisma before the race and his character and class during it delighted the Rio crowd - it is this combination which sets him apart, which makes him unique, which makes him a true legend.
But his crowning moment was still to come, as he anchored the Jamaican quartet in the 4x100m relay. The stadium erupted when Bolt took the baton, overtaking his Japanese rival to guide his compatriots to a third consecutive relay gold and win his ninth Olympic gold by a clear distance.
The trifecta of wins across the 100m, 200m and 4x100m ensures that no other athlete owns more track and field Olympic gold medals than the Jamaican.
If Bolt was competing as an individual nation at Rio 2016 he would rank as the 26th most successful country. His influence has arguably been greater than any nation state, in this Games and in the previous two.
After crossing the line, Bolt, draped in his national flag, went on a lap of honour, sharing the historic moment with jovial fans.
His famous 'lightning bolt' bow and arrow pose was enough to provoke rapturous cheers on its own. No other sportsman offers the same level of engagement as Bolt, who bowed out by kissing the finishing line one last time.
Arguably the greatest Olympian of all time his influence stretches far beyond the athletics track where he undoubtedly left an indelible imprint on the Olympics.
Far more than just a sprinter and a superstar, Usain Bolt's exploits in Rio have ensured his name will forever be etched among the pantheon of sporting greats.
His departure from the stage will leave a long and looming shadow over the world of athletics.