BEIJING (Reuters) - Usain Bolt’s stunning 100 meters victory at the Beijing Olympics will be remembered as much for his celebrations as for the world record time, and that suits him fine.
The 21-year-old Jamaican’s joyous posturing before, during and after the race was evidence of the huge confidence running through his 6ft 5in (1.96cm) frame over the last few months.
“I wasn’t worried about the world record,” he said after the race, adding that he had not realized he had smashed his own mark with a run of 9.69 seconds until his lap of honor.
“I just went out there to win and I executed my race right.”
The 91,000 spectators at the Bird’s Nest got a taste of Usain Bolt style before the race when he struck a series of poses more familiar to fans of hip hop than athletics.
“I was just having fun,” he said. “That’s just me, I was just having fun. l like to have fun before the race, stay relaxed.”
He was anything but relaxed until three quarters of the way through the race when he looked across and realized he was out in front on his own.
The arms outstretched, the roar, and the strike of the chest as he crossed the line were expressions of delight rather than bragging, he said.
They were also just a prequel to the main event as he showed his moves on his way around the stadium.
“I just like dancing as you guys should have figured out by now,” he said. “It keeps me relaxing, not to worry too much. Just enjoy myself and stay relaxed.”
Relaxation is a word that peppers Bolt’s conversation and also featured prominently in his preparations for the Olympic final on Saturday night.
“I woke up at 11, sat around, watched TV, then I had lunch, some nuggets, then I pretty much went back to my room and slept for another three hours, went back, got some more nuggets, and then I came to the track,” he said.
He is deadly serious about his love for his country, though, and was delighted to be the first Olympic 100 meters champion to run in the island’s yellow and green colors.
“This means a lot to my country. It means a lot to me,” he said.
There will not a be a lot of relaxation time for Bolt over the next week, though, as the heats for his favored 200 meters start on Monday.
Winning the half-lap event was always his priority and if he does win gold he will become the first man since Carl Lewis in 1984 to do the sprint double.
Michael Johnson’s 12-year-old world record of 19.32 seconds can wait, though.
“I‘m not worried about world records,” he said. “I’ve got plenty of time for world records in the future.”
Additional reporting by Simon Denyer, editing by Jeremy Laurence