|Usain Bolt started spreading the news after he got his third gold - and third world record. (Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)|
Bolt sprints into history with 3d gold
BEIJING - Usain Bolt loves the cameras, the cameras love Usain Bolt, and when they connected during his third victory lap of these Olympics, he smiled that infectious smile and raised three fingers.
As in: 3 for 3 for 3. As in: three events, three gold medals, three world records.
Bolt capped his spectacular Summer Games by tearing through his portion of the 4 x 100-meter relay last night, setting up Jamaica's victory in 37.10 seconds to break a 16-year-old world record.
It was the perfect way to end a weeklong coming-out party that began with a world record of 9.69 in the 100 meters Saturday, followed by a world record of 19.30 in the 200 meters Wednesday.
"The greatest Olympics ever," Bolt called it.
Who could argue?
Bolt joins quite a list: The only other men to win gold medals in the 100, 200, and the sprint relay at one Olympics were Carl Lewis in 1984, Bobby Morrow in 1956, and Jesse Owens in 1936. None of those greats set world records in either the 100 or 200, though, much less both.
"People can only dream of doing what he's done. He's basically cemented himself as a legend of track and field," said Bolt's relay teammate Michael Frater. "I don't think any performance can top what he's done here."
The margin in the relay, 0.96 over second-place Trinidad and Tobago, was the biggest in the event at the Olympics since 1936. Japan was third.
The Jamaicans shattered the old mark of 37.40, originally set by a US team that included Lewis at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, then matched by another American quartet in 1993.
The only error in the sprint events for Jamaica came in the women's relay when they dropped the baton. That last error wiped out the Caribbean island's bid to become only the second country to go 6 for 6 in the sprints at an Olympics; the United States won the men's and women's 100s, 200s, and 4 x 100 relays at the 1984 Los Angeles Games.
Second-leg runner Sherone Simpson tried to hand off the stick, vigorously shaking her hand forward, and Kerron Stewart tried to grab it, but they simply could not get the exchange done. Eventually, they bumped into each other, and Jamaica was disqualified. Russia won in 42.31.
In other medal events, Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia won the women's 5,000 in 15:41.40 to add that gold to the one she earned in the 10,000; Steve Hooker won Australia's first track gold medal of these Games and cleared an Olympic-record 19 feet 6 3/4 inches (5.96 meters) in the pole vault; and Maurren Higa Maggi of Brazil leaped 23-1 1/4 (7.04 meters) on her first attempt to beat defending Olympic champion Tatyana Lebedeva of Russia by a half-inch in the women's long jump.