The premier event of the Games lived up to its hype

The men's 100 metres final lived up to all the hype. It was the best 100 metres I have seen, and not only because it was the fastest collective 100 metres race ever. Every man finished under ten seconds, except Asafa Powell, who pulled up with injury and limped across in 11.99sec.

The 100 metres is the premier event not only of athletics at the Olympics but of the entire Olympic Games, so from the moment the Games started, people have been debating who will be crowned fastest man in the world. And since Usain Bolt's loss to his training partner, Yohan Blake, over 100 and 200 metres at the Jamaica trials, many started to doubt Bolt. And it was because Bolt was not at his best earlier in the year because of injury that there was any debate at all.

But while there was fierce argument over Bolt versus Blake for the gold, there was also debate over who else might win a medal. There was no shortage of contenders. Tyson Gay was a sentimental favourite: a 100 and 200 metres world champion in 2007, before the emergence of Bolt, and the second-fastest 100 metres sprinter of all time, Gay has been beset with injury throughout his career, and one caused him to miss the 2008 Games.

Gay ended up in the worst place to finish at the Olympic Games - fourth. He has never won an Olympic medal and, unfortunately at almost 30 years old and often injured, probably never will.

The bronze medal went to Justin Gatlin, the 100 metres Olympic champion in 2004. He tested positive in 2006 and served a four-year doping suspension. Many, including myself, thought that he would never return to the sport and certainly not back to world-class form, but he did, winning the United States Olympic trials in June and taking bronze in London.

Gatlin looked great through the rounds and put himself in medal contention early with
great starts and the best first 40 metres of the field. But as he started to look like a medal-winner, and even a possible danger to Bolt and Blake if they faltered, there was a fear that we could have a former drug cheat as Olympic 100 metres champion.

Gatlin has certainly redeemed himself as an athlete with his performance here, but now he has the opportunity to redeem himself as a person, by using his success after his suspension to do good for the sport and perhaps share his experience with kids to serve as a cautionary tale.

In the end, though, it was Bolt who retained his title. When I interviewed him a couple of years ago for my book Gold Rush, I asked him where his motivation would come from after becoming Olympic and world champion as well as world record-holder in such a short period. He told me that he was sufficiently motivated because in his mind he would not truly be considered a legend, like me and Carl Lewis, unless he were to win the Olympic title again.

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