The streets of Jamaica witnessed a carnival-like atmosphere as its favourite son, Usain Bolt, claimed the unprecedented feat of a “triple triple”, signing off his Olympic career with his third gold in the Rio Games.
With Jamaica winning the men’s 4x100m relay gold, Bolt’s ninth Olympic gold, the sprinter bid farewell to the Olympic Games, declaring himself the “greatest”.
Victory was not guaranteed when Bolt took the baton for the anchor leg, but he powered down the straight to cross in 37.27 seconds before soaking up the acclaim from an adoring crowd.
A surprise Japan quartet came second, followed by the US, who were disqualified to give Canada bronze.
A third straight 100m, 200m and 4x100m clean sweep put Bolt alongside Carl Lewis and Paavo Nurmi on nine track and field Olympic golds.
Bolt, who said at the start of the week that he would be an “immortal” if he claimed the triple triple, had no doubt that he deserves more acclaim.
“There you go. I’m the greatest,” said the Jamaican, who kissed the finish line as he played to the crowd and the cameras. “I hope I’ve set the bar high enough that no one can do it again.”
In the eight years since Beijing, the 11-time world champion has become one of the best known sportsmen on the planet and, with the triple triple, has a legitimate claim to the title of greatest Olympic track and field athlete ever.
“I told the guys [relay team], ‘don’t give me too much work to do, make it easy’,” Bolt said.
“And they did exactly that. I had no work to do, just to run to the line.”
On the streets of Kingston, the party had started well before the athletes took their marks on the track.
As Bolt roared past the finish line, the streets erupted.
“It’s more than words can express now,” said one excited fan.
“You will never see another man like this for the next couple of decades,” said another.