'I hope no one can do it again' - Bolt sets seal on Olympic immortality with triple-treble
Published 20/08/2016 | 06:49
Usain Bolt hopes he has achieved a feat no man will be able to match as he completed his 'triple triple' mission by anchoring Jamaica to gold in the men's 4x100 metres relay on his final Olympic appearance.
But he admitted the occasion was tinged with sadness as the sport's biggest name said goodbye to its biggest stage.
Bolt made it a clean sweep of 100m, 200m and sprint relay golds from three successive Games to bring his gold medal haul to nine.
The world's fastest man, who after his 200m victory on Thursday night planted a farewell kiss on Rio's Olympic Stadium track following his last individual race at a Games, brought the defending champions home in 37.27 seconds.
"I've worked hard every Olympics to win three gold medals, I've proven to the world I'm the greatest," he said. "I'm just happy I've accomplished so much and I'm relieved.
"I would have never thought I could go back to back to back at the Olympics. The first one (in Beijing in 2008) I was just happy, the second one (in London in 2012) was a challenge, and then to come here and do the third one is just unbelievable.
Bolt is unbelievable but watch till the end wipeout pic.twitter.com/D64u3GoDLJ— FADE′ (@ComFade) August 20, 2016
"I hope I've set the bar high enough so that no one can do it again.
"All of the Olympics are special to me, without any of them it wouldn't be the same. All of them mean the world to me - it's nine."
Bolt, who celebrates his 30th birthday on Sunday, signed off in trademark fashion as he took the baton from Nickel Ashmeade and, knees high and arms pumping, stormed away from second-placed Japan to huge cheers.
"As soon as I got the baton I knew that I was going to win this one," he said.
"There's no one on the anchor leg who can outrun me when we get the baton. I told the guys: 'Don't give me too much work to do please', and they did exactly that. I had no work to do other than run to the line."
Bolt raised his baton to the heavens as he crossed the line before embracing his team-mates, also including Asafa Powell and Yohan Blake, before the quartet set off on a lap of honour, draped in Jamaican flags.
The world's fastest man blew kisses to the stands. It was the end of an era.
"I'm going to miss the crowd, the energy and the competition," he said. "It's been a great career.
"It's mixed feelings. It's a relief, because it's really stressful, I've had injury problems, but I'm also sad that I have to leave, this is my last one."
This is not the Bolt of eight years ago, when he stormed to his 100m and 200m world records in Beijing, nor even of four years ago when he blitzed the field in London.
Age is catching up with him - the only thing that can it seems. He declared after his 200m success on Thursday night that his legs refused to go faster and he felt tired.
"It's hard work, sweat and sacrifice," he said on what was behind his achievements. "I've sacrificed so much throughout the season, throughout the years, I've been through so much. It's just sweat and tears."
He remains, though, utterly dominant.
Friday night's relay time was slower than both of Jamaica's previous Olympic triumphs. That is all relative, though. It was still the fourth fastest time in history.
For Bolt there is just one more season to go. He will retire after next year's World Championships in London. And then - gone.
"It's going to be hard to motivate myself to come back, but I have one more year to do and I'm not going to let the fans down," he said.
Bolt's joy was in stark contrast to the United States, who had just about completed their lap of honour after coming home third when they looked up at the scoreboard and discovered they had been disqualified.
A botched first changeover between Mike Rodgers and Justin Gatlin left them deflated and saw Canada elevated to bronze.
"It was a nightmare, especially at the end of the lap," said Gatlin.
"You work so hard with your team-mates for that moment when you can come together. All that work just crumbles."
There was better news for the US women's sprint relay team, who retained their title, in the process Allyson Felix becoming the first woman to win five Olympic gold medals in athletics.