LONDON -- When the stakes are the biggest, the spotlight most bright, Usain Bolt is as good as gold.
Good as there ever has been.
Putting the field far enough behind that he could slow up over the last few strides and put his left index finger to his mouth to tell any critics to shush, Bolt won the 200 meters in 19.32 seconds Thursday night, making him the only man with two Olympic titles in that event.
He added it to the 100 gold he won Sunday, duplicating the 100-200 double he produced at the Beijing Games four years ago. The only difference? In 2008, Bolt broke world records in both.
This time, Bolt led a Jamaican sweep, with his training partner and pal Yohan Blake getting the silver in 19.44, and Warren Weir taking the bronze in 19.84 -- more than a half-second behind the champion.
"The guy is just on another planet right now," Wallace Spearmon, the American who finished fourth in 19.90, said between sobs of disappointment.
Afterward, Bolt had plenty of energy left, dropping to the track to do five pushups -- one for each of his Olympic gold medals so far. Ever the showman, he bent down and kissed the track, then did it again a few minutes later, and also grabbed a camera from someone in the photographers' well and started clicking away.
Bolt's stated goal heading to London was to become a "living legend," and, well, he's making a pretty good case for himself.
In Beijing, Bolt became the first man to win the 100, 200, and 4x100 relay at a single Summer Games, and all in world-record times, no less.
In London, he became the first man to win two Olympic golds in the 200, and he did it consecutively, too. He's also only the second man -- joining Carl Lewis of the U.S. -- with back-to-back 100 golds, and Lewis won his second when rival Ben Johnson was disqualified after failing a drug test.
In all, Bolt, 25, has won seven of the past eight major individual sprint titles in the 100 and 200 at Olympics and world championships, a four-year streak of unprecedented dominance. The only exception was a race he never got to run: Bolt was disqualified for a false start in the 100 final at last year's world championships, and Blake got the gold.
There have been other small setbacks for Bolt, who was troubled by minor leg and back injuries that were blamed for losses to Blake in the 100 and 200 at the Jamaican Olympic trials. That sparked some hand-wringing back home in Jamaica about how Bolt would do in London.
Seems rather silly at the moment.
"Two times in a row. World championships, too," said Churandy Martina of the Netherlands, fifth in 20 seconds flat. "He can say whatever he wants. ... He did all those things."
And even if Bolt didn't manage to break his own world records (his 9.63 Sunday was the second-fastest 100 in history, behind only his 9.58 in 2009), he certainly has managed to reinvent sprinting.
His 19.30 in the 200 final at Beijing is still the Olympic record, but Bolt bettered that with a 19.19 at the 2009 world championships, where he also set the 100 record.
Now he'll try to make it 6 for 6 in the 4x100-meter relay, where Jamaica can't count on the injured Asafa Powell, the former world-record holder in the 100 and the anchor man in 2008. Still, with Bolt, Blake and Weir presumably on the squad, there's no question who will be favored. Qualifying starts today; the final is Saturday.
First Published August 10, 2012 4:00 AM