Usain Bolt ‘immortal’ after three-peating in Olympic 100

Usain Bolt, who won the 100 meters in 9.81 seconds, three-peated in the event, and has a chance to do the same in the 200 and the 400 relay.
Usain Bolt, who won the 100 meters in 9.81 seconds, three-peated in the event, and has a chance to do the same in the 200 and the 400 relay. AP

The race began off the bus, to get through security, to carve out a space, to witness history.

Where were you when Usain Bolt ran (possibly? maybe? hopefully not?) his last 100-meter dash in the Olympics?

Bolt always is must-see, and he rarely disappoints.

Two billion people worldwide were expected to watch Bolt race on television Sunday night, and while Rio has had trouble filling seats, the 56,000-seat Olympic Stadium was nearly full for the 100.

And the stadium was electric.

“The Brazil crowd has been extremely great so far,” Bolt said. “I thought the energy they brought was ridiculous. I want to thank them for that.”

It takes less than 10 seconds to decide the men’s 100. Blink, and you’ll miss him.

“He’s showing people out there that the impossible is possible,” said former Baylor sprinter Trayvon Bromell, who finished eighth in the race. “He now is basically the best sprinter [ever], because he broke the tie between him and Carl Lewis. He did something that was amazing. He’s showing kids out there that the impossible is not impossible.”

During pre-race introductions, Bolt held up his index finger to indicate his place in history. Who’s to argue? Even Lewis might concede after this Olympics ends.

Bolt, who turns 30 next week, won his third consecutive Olympic 100 in a race that never was in doubt. No sprinter ever has three-peated in the 100, and Bolt has a chance to do the same in the 200 and the 400 relay.

With seven Olympic medals, Bolt trails Lewis and Finland’s Paavo Nurmi by only two medals for the most in Olympic track and field history.

“Somebody said I can become immortal,” Bolt said. “Two more medals to go and I can sign off. Immortal.”

While the organizing committee has taken a beating, the Rio Games themselves will rank among the greatest Olympics in history:

Michael Phelps, the greatest swimmer in history, capped his career with five more gold medals and a silver.

Simone Biles won her third gold medal Sunday, sealing the title of greatest gymnast ever, and she rates as the favorite in her two remaining events.

Simone Manuel became the first female African-American to win a gold medal in swimming.

South Africa’s Wayde van Niekerk, in the race before Bolt, shattered Michael Johnson’s 17-year-old world record and 20-year-old Olympic record in the 400. He ran a 43.03, topping Johnson’s 43.18 world record set in Seville in 1999 and Johnson’s 43.49 Olympic record set in Atlanta in 1996.

But even van Niekerk’s performance failed to upstage Bolt, who remains the star of stars.

Bolt ran a 9.81 to beat rival Justin Gatlin, heartily booed by the crowd during introductions. The American, who has served two drug suspensions, ran a 9.89 to become, at 34, the oldest medalist in a men’s individual athletic event. Canada’s Andre de Grasse finished third in 9.91.

“It was brilliant,” Bolt said of his race. “I didn’t go so fast, but I’m so happy I won. I told you guys I was going to do it.”

At 6-foot-5, 207 pounds, Bolt looks larger than life. He towers over other sprinters — literally and figuratively — and track and field will miss Bolt when he’s gone for good.

Charean Williams: 817-390-7760, @NFLCharean

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram