Since Usain Bolt didn’t qualify for the Rio Olympic Games through the conventional way, at his country’s Olympic Trials, track and field’s preeminent figure had to complete a three-pronged process in order to secure a spot on Jamaica’s roster.
The 29-year-old superstar needed to submit paperwork indicating an injury derailed his Trials effort, and his nation’s athletic association needed to approve that medical exemption. Given Bolt’s status, the first two were not difficult hurdles, but the injury-prone sprinter needed to show fitness in a meet Friday in London in order to officially book his fourth Olympic trip.
Bolt won the 200-meter dash at the London Diamond League meet in 19.89 seconds, a time that doesn’t indicate he’s in top form but one that proves he’ll be healthy enough to attempt to get there by Rio — which was all that was required.
Owner of three world records, Bolt will now defend his back-to-back 200-meter golds, along with his two-time reigning Olympic champion status in the 100 and 4×100 relay events.
No sprinter has ever won three golds in the 100 or 200 events, but Bolt has a history of not showing his best stuff at non-championship meets, with his efforts to win three golds at last year’s World Championships representing the most recent example.
Bolt’s first 200 this season doubled as his last race before the Olympics. He’ll have three weeks to round back into form, with the track and field portion of the Games beginning August 12. Americans Justin Gatlin and LeShawn Merritt hold the world-leading times in the 100 and 200, respectively, with longtime Bolt rival Gatlin boasting a career-best 9.80-second clocking in the 100 and the 400-meter specialist Merritt dropping down to the 200 and holding a 19.74 time.
Although Bolt will still be considered the favorite in Brazil, his lack of a substantial resume in 2016 narrows the gap somewhat in each race.