James Lawton: Tomfoolery just a mask for Olympic champion Usain Bolt

Bolt was masterly in the nonchalant way he conquered his world

The fastest gun in the world is still beautifully oiled, still consummately able to shoot down anyone who might doubt him.

That was the requirement of the man who made himself a wonder of the world four years ago and who last night proved that those who still held him in awe were absolutely right.

Usain Bolt, shortly before his 26th birthday, larked even more extravagantly than he did before erupting so sensationally in Beijing in the last Olympics, but again it was the tomfoolery of someone with deadly and infinitely justified intent.

Yohan Blake, the 22-year-old who so many expected to see triumph, ran a personal best — and so did Justin Gatlin. But they were simply destroyed, along with the idea that this was a vulnerable champion who did not have powers beyond the comprehension of all his rivals.

The American Tyson Gay, another left in his mighty wake, hinted as much when he said, "He's the guy who's been where we haven't."

It is a place he still occupies without any serious challenge and he knew it well enough at the finish. "There is talk and talk but it is just talk. I went out tonight and I knew I could do the business. I just went to show I could do it again – and I always believed I could."

This time he could only break his own Olympic record with a huge, loping, power-laden dash to the line in 9.63sec, 0.06 of a second faster than his last triumph and, after all the injury worries, just a stride or so away from his world-record mark of 9.58.

There was an indication earlier in the evening that he was indeed ready to once again re-establish his unique place in the history of foot racing.

It may be hard to imagine a thunderbolt rolling along like Ole Man River but this was less so when Bolt cruised into the final slightly less than two hours before the moment that had for so long been seen as the dramatic centrepiece of these Olympics.

In his first heat on Saturday he confessed to a stumble at the start and a certain difficulty in engaging the mechanics of his extraordinary running action, the long earth-consuming stride which smashed the world and Olympic record in Beijing four years ago – and then brought the mark down to a scarcely credible 9.58 in Berlin precisely a year later. There may not have been so many pyrotechnics leading to last night's last act, only defeats by his young Jamaican team-mate Blake, but the idea that he was beset by crisis was certainly put on hold when he arrived for the great showdown as third fastest qualifier – behind Gatlin and Blake.

As Dwain Chambers was forced off the stage he had fought so hard to regain – he ran 10.5 against Bolt's 9.87 in the second semi-final – the great man took a leisurely glance behind and promptly decided that he could spare himself any more serious effort.

Both Gatlin (9.82) and Blake (9.85) had looked ferociously brisk. Bolt, by quite startling comparison, appeared to be mildly exercised. If this was just another touch of psychological warfare, it was conducted with some of the usual panache. He rolled his eyes and then wagged a finger. It was if to say that that it had been such folly to doubt him, a suggestion that carried a lot more weight than it might have done 24 hours earlier.

It meant that the aura of Bolt as the fastest man on earth had at least a few more hours – or maybe eternity as the first man to retain the Olympic title if we put aside Carl Lewis's elevation after the drug bust on Ben Johnson in Seoul in 24 years ago.

The latter possibly was certainly sharply indicated by the huge movement in the betting odds after Bolt's strolling finish in his semi-final. Before going in, he was a mere 8-11. Coming out, he was a stunning 2-7. Blake, his recent conqueror, was at 7-2 while Gatlin, the fastest final qualifier by 0.3 seconds was a distant 16-1.

The men who need to be right had passed an early verdict, while Michael Johnson declared, "It is Bolt's race to lose."

Really, what the race was for was an announcement of a stunning ability to cover the ground, enforce amazing standards of achievement in the most dramatic race that the Olympics ever stage.

Bolt was masterly last night and thrilling in the ostensibly nonchalant way he re-conquered his world.

Of course he wasn't nonchalant, he wasn't playing the clown. He is about the vocation of his life. He was about the serious business of being the fastest man the world has even known.

It is title that for some time is unlikely to feel the breath of a threat.

Suggested Topics
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
Life and Style
food + drink
John Profumo and his wife Valerie Robson in 1959
voicesWard committed no crime, and the truth is still being covered up, writes Geoffrey Robertson QC
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
news... you won't believe how bad their skills were

Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright and Mark Wright
tvStrictly goes head-to-head with Apprentice
footballPremier League preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's clashes
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas