Jamaican Usain Bolt confirmed his place in the sprinters’ pantheon tonight, winning the Olympic 200m title in world record time.
There can be no greater compliment for a sprinter than to be spoken of in the same exalted tones as all-time greats Carl Lewis and Michael Johnson.
That is the company now being kept by Bolt.
His time of 19.30 stripped two hundredths of a second off the 12-year-old 200m record set by Johnson at the 1996 Atlanta Games.
It was his second gold medal and his second world record in Beijing, having also gone faster than any man in history in the 100m final last weekend.
In the 100m final, Bolt – who turns 22 tomorrow – was celebrating well before he crossed the finish line.
Tonight he ran flat out for the whole distance, becoming the first man since Lewis at the 1984 Los Angeles Games to complete the Olympic 100m-200m double.
Churandy Martina of the Dutch Antilles was second in 19.82, American Wallace Spearmon initially claimed bronze in 19.85 but was later disqualified, lifting the defending Olympic champion Shawn Crawford of the US from fourth to third in 19.96 as the top five runners dipped under 20 seconds for the first time ever.
Earlier today, Johnson predicted his 200m world record – for so long considered untouchable – was under real threat from the Bolt assault.
“Nothing Bolt does will shock me,” Johnson said earlier today.
“He has been working on his start and the first part of the 100 proved he has worked on that.
“He’s going to have to turn the corner a lot better and run the corner better (to break the 200m record).”
“He has incredible speed and an incredibly long stride,” added Johnson, who won the Olympic 200m-400m double in 1996 and successfully defended the one-lap title four years later in Sydney.
“That affords him the ability to cover more ground with every stride the way no-one else can.”