Brilliant Usain Bolt leads Jamaica quartet to world record in 4x100m relay

Double sprint champion's blistering last leg sees relay team break the 37-second barrier

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The Independent Online

Oh yes. It had to be. Usain Bolt galloping down the home straight at a record lick. Gold would never be sufficient to substantiate this legend. He had to take down the clock for good measure. Bolt was not on his own, of course, but when he collected the baton from Yohan Blake at the end of the third leg he was neck and neck with Ryan Bailey of the United States.

Parity lasted only a stride or two before the fastest thing on two legs broke into clean air, smashing the electronic tape in a time of 36.84 sec, a number never before seen in the 4x100m relay. The message, as he danced across the track with his team-mates, was "look out London, the party starts here".

Was this goodbye or see you later? Though he teased with the idea of a one-lap shoot-out in Rio de Janeiro against Kenya's magnificent two-lap warrior David Rudisha, Bolt has little need of a Brazilian flourish to embellish his legacy. Not many could have walked into this arena after Mo Farah's epic 5,000 metres victory and turned heads.

The women's high-jump final and the conclusion to the men's javelin offered absorbing competition in the post-Mo period, as did the women's final track event, the 400 metre relay, which in the flying feet of the United States delivered the fifth fastest time in history, and the quickest since 1993. But one way or another it was impossible to escape the presence of Bolt.

The popularity of the relay events is about to be milked with an annual championship in Nassau that will feature races from 100m all the way to 1500m. Given the confidence he has, you would not discount Bolt appearing in the latter. He was at it again last night, larking about in the warm-up area.

The American sprinters were pacing around solemnly, as if they had a race to run and an Olympic gold medal to contest. Bolt peered through doors making the sign of a W on his bobble-hatted head for the benefit of his chums on the other side. Who in the history of sporting endeavour has carried his stature so lightly just minutes before justifying it? This was it, the last event in the stadium. Bolt was made for this moment. And he would be bringing the baton home in lane seven.

There was not a shred of doubt in his mind what the outcome would be. As a parting gesture to separate himself further from the mortals alongside him, he stood with his back to goal as the first-leg runners went down in their blocks.

The seven competitors asked to run the last leg with him stared intently ahead to watch their team-mates get away. Bolt, instead, looked at the big screen behind them, which offered a much clearer view of what was unfolding 100 metres away. Does this stuff occur naturally to him or was he acting out a planned routine designed to discombobulate further minds already distressed at the prospect of running against him? Who knows? The result is the same.

There was nothing between the powerful American team, led out by Trell Kimmons, and Jamaica, who handed the baton to Nesta Carter. Justin Gatlin ran a powerful second leg handing over to Tyson Gay, who appeared to be a stride ahead of Blake running the final bend. Blake did some serious spade work reeling in Gay, to set up Bolt for the grand finale.

Nothing in the history of this, or any other sport, has iced a cake quite like this fellow. Bailey can shift, and did. Bolt was simply in turbo mode, those piston thighs pumping like the devil all the way to the line.

There was a brief note of discord struck when the official would not release the winning baton into Bolt's care. It is a brave man that will defy a triple Olympic champion on a night such as this over ownership of a stick, but rules are rules, even at one of the greatest Olympic Games the movement has seen.