Usain Bolt wrote another chapter of improbable Olympic history with a third consecutive 200m crown on Thursday as Ashton Eaton led an American gold rush by clinching back-to-back decathlon titles.
Bolt, who just days earlier had become the first man in history to win three 100m titles in a row, surged to victory in the 200m in 19.78sec at the Olympic Stadium.
Canada’s Andre De Grasse took silver in 20.02sec, just ahead of France’s Christophe Lemaitre, who took bronze in 20.12.
Bolt’s triumph was greeted with rapturous applause by Brazilian fans who roared their appreciation as the sprint superstar set off on a lap of honour, with Bob Marley booming from stadium speakers.
The win left the 29-year-old Bolt just one win away from his targeted “triple triple” — a repeat of his sweep of 100m, 200m and 4x100m golds at the 2008 and 2012 Games.
“There’s nothing else I can do,” said Bolt.
“I’ve proven to the world that I’m the greatest. That’s what I came here for. This is why I said it’s my last Olympics. I can’t prove anything else.”
The only blemish on another night of triumph for Bolt — his eighth Olympic gold medal — was a failure to seriously challenge his world record of 19.19sec.
“I wanted to run a faster time,” he said. “I knew it was going to be hard to break the world record because I could tell by my legs.
“When I came off the corner my legs decided, ‘Listen, we’re not going to go any faster.'”
Bolt will attempt to put the seal on what he says is his final Olympics in Friday’s 4×100 relay.