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London 2012 Olympics: The best pictures

Unforgettable: London's magical Olympics in pictures

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UPDATED:

22:32 GMT, 12 August 2012

From Danny Boyle's iconic opening ceremony, London 2012 has wowed and wondered beguiled and bewitched the watching world. With a raucous wall of sound emanating from a stunning selection of venues, world records have tumbled accompanied by performances that will forever be etched on the memory.

Michael Phelps won his 22nd medal to usurp Larisa Latynina as the most decorated Olympian of all-time, Usain Bolt completed his second triple sweep of sprinting gold medals and Great Britain surpassed their Beijing haul to finish third in the medal table.

And what a performance from Britain's team of athletes. Sir Chris Hoy added two golds to his Olympic legacy, Mo Farah won both the 10,000m and 5,000m, poster girl Jessica Ennis completed a magical golden journey in the heptathlon and Ben Ainslie confirmed he is the greatest Olympic sailor ever by winning his fourth gold in the Finn class.

With a tear in the eye, Sportsmail remembers a quite remarkable Games with a collection of pictures to capture the magical spirit of London 2012.

Mo Farah wins the men's 5,000m final on day fifteen of the Games in the Olympic Stadium

Mo Farah wins the men's 5,000m final on day fifteen of the Games in the Olympic Stadium

Churandy Martina, Ryan Bailey, Usain Bolt, Justin Gatlin, Yohan Blake, Tyson Gay, Asafa Powell and Richard Thompson leave the blocks in the men's 100m final

Churandy Martina, Ryan Bailey, Usain Bolt, Justin Gatlin, Yohan Blake, Tyson Gay, Asafa Powell and Richard Thompson leave the blocks in the men's 100m final

Bolt wins in an Olympic record time of 9.63, ahead of compatriot Blake and Gatlin

Bolt wins in an Olympic record time of 9.63, ahead of compatriot Blake and Gatlin

Fireworks burst above the stadium during the wonderful opening ceremony

Fireworks burst above the stadium during the wonderful opening ceremony

Germany's Robert Harting rips his shirt as he celebrates winning gold in the the men's discus

Germany's Robert Harting rips his shirt as he celebrates winning gold in the the men's discus

Helen Glover and Heather Stanning celebrate in their boat after winning Great Britain's first gold in the women's pair on day five

Helen Glover and Heather Stanning celebrate in their boat after winning Great Britain's first gold in the women's pair on day five

Bradley Wiggins added the second after an incredible performance in the men's individual time trial

Bradley Wiggins added the second after an incredible performance in the men's individual time trial

Michael Phelps on his way to winning his second of four golds of the Games in the men's 200m individual medley

Michael Phelps on his way to winning his second of four golds of the Games in the men's 200m individual medley

Liu Xiang sits on the track after suffering injury in the heats of the men's 110m hurdles

Liu Xiang sits on the track after suffering injury in the heats of the men's 110m hurdles

Kirani James wins Grenada's first Olympic medal, taking gold in the men's 400m

Kirani James wins Grenada's first Olympic medal, taking gold in the men's 400m

Sir Chris Hoy crosses the finish line to win gold in the men's keirin

Sir Chris Hoy crosses the finish line to win gold in the men's keirin

Taoufik Makhloufi of Algeria wins the gold in the men's 1500m

Taoufik Makhloufi of Algeria wins the gold in the men's 1500m

Alistair Brownlee (right) shakes hands with second placed Javier Gomez after the men's triathlon final in Hyde Park

Alistair Brownlee (right) shakes hands with second placed Javier Gomez after the men's triathlon final in Hyde Park

Matthias Steiner of Germany lies on the floor after failing to lift in the Men's +105kg weightlifting final

Matthias Steiner of Germany lies on the floor after failing to lift in the Men's +105kg weightlifting final

Germany's Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Bella Donna compete in the first qualifier of individual jumping on day eight

Germany's Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Bella Donna compete in the first qualifier of individual jumping on day eight

Spectators at the Horse Guards Parade watch the action with the London Eye behind during the men's beach volleyball preliminary match between the Great Britain and Norway

Spectators at the Horse Guards Parade watch the action with the London Eye behind during the men's beach volleyball preliminary match between the Great Britain and Norway

Geraint Thomas, Steven Burke, Edward Clancy and Peter Kennaugh compete in the first round of the men's team pursuit

Geraint Thomas, Steven Burke, Edward Clancy and Peter Kennaugh compete in the first round of the men's team pursuit

Jessica Ennis lands a jump during the long jump in the heptathlon on the way to her glorious gold

Jessica Ennis lands a jump during the long jump in the heptathlon on the way to her glorious gold

South Africa's Chad le Clos reacts as he wins gold in the men's 200 metre butterfly final

South Africa's Chad le Clos reacts as he wins gold in the men's 200 metre butterfly final

Andy Murray celebrates after defeating Roger Federer in the men's singles gold medal match

Andy Murray celebrates after defeating Roger Federer in the men's singles gold medal match

Kenya's David Rudisha celebrates after crossing the finish line to win gold and setting a new world record of 1min 40.91secs in the men's 800m

Kenya's David Rudisha celebrates after crossing the finish line to win gold and setting a new world record of 1min 40.91secs in the men's 800m

Singapore's Heem Wei Lim performs on the beam in the artistic gymnastics women's team qualification on day two

Singapore's Heem Wei Lim performs on the beam in the artistic gymnastics women's team qualification on day two

A full moon is captured within the Olympic rings hanging from Tower Bridge

A full moon is captured within the Olympic rings hanging from Tower Bridge

The USA's Carmelita Jeter, Bianca Knight, Allyson Felix and Tianna Madison celebrate next to the clock after winning gold and setting a new world record of 40.82secs after the women's 4x100m relay

The USA's Carmelita Jeter, Bianca Knight, Allyson Felix and Tianna Madison celebrate next to the clock after winning gold and setting a new world record of 40.82secs after the women's 4x100m relay

Stephanie Rice of Australia, China's Ye Shiwen and GB's Hannah Miley compete in the heats of the women's 200m individual medley

Stephanie Rice of Australia, China's Ye Shiwen and GB's Hannah Miley compete in the heats of the women's 200m individual medley

Han Soonchul of Korea (left) celebrates his victory over Fazliddin Gaibnazarov of Uzbekistan during the men's lightweight

Korea's Han Soonchul (left) celebrates his victory over Fazliddin Gaibnazarov of Uzbekistan during the men's lightweight boxing

South Africa's Oscar Pistorius is seen behind the Olympic flame after the men's 400m semi-finals

South Africa's Oscar Pistorius is seen behind the Olympic flame after the men's 400m semi-finals

Gold medallists Etienne Stott (second left) and Tim Baillie (right) celebrate with silver medallists David Florence (second right) and Richard Hounslow (third right) of Great Britain after the men's canoe double (C2) slalom final

Gold medallists Etienne Stott (second left) and Tim Baillie (right) celebrate with silver medallists David Florence (second right) and Richard Hounslow (third right) of Great Britain after the men's canoe double (C2) slalom final

South Korea's Sa Jae-hyouk shouts after getting injured on the men's 77Kg Group A weightlifting competition at the ExCel

South Korea's Sa Jae-hyouk shouts after getting injured on the men's 77Kg Group A weightlifting competition at the ExCel

Ashraf Aliyev of Azerbaijan (right) competes with Sohsuke Takatani of Japan during their men's freestyle 74 kg wrestling qualification bout

Ashraf Aliyev of Azerbaijan (right) competes with Sohsuke Takatani of Japan during their men's freestyle 74 kg wrestling qualification bout

Micah Richards goes for the ball wiith Jung Sung-ryong and Ji Dong-won of South Korea during the men's football quarter final

Micah Richards goes for the ball wiith Jung Sung-ryong and Ji Dong-won of South Korea during the men's football quarter final

Serbia's Nikolina Moldovan competes in the women's kayak single (K1) 200m heat at Eton Dorney

Serbia's Nikolina Moldovan competes in the women's kayak single (K1) 200m heat at Eton Dorney

China's Qin Kai performs a dive during the men's 3m springboard preliminary round

China's Qin Kai performs a dive during the men's 3m springboard preliminary round

Bronze medallist Alan Campbell is helped out of the boat by Sir Steve Redgrave after the men's single sculls rowing final

Bronze medallist Alan Campbell is helped out of the boat by Sir Steve Redgrave after the men's single sculls rowing final

Shanaze Reade leads the way in the women's BMX final

Shanaze Reade leads the way in the women's BMX final

US gymnast Gabrielle Douglas performs on the balance beam during the Artistic Gymnastic women's team final

US gymnast Gabrielle Douglas performs on the balance beam during the Artistic Gymnastic women's team final

Nicola Spirig of Switzerland pips Sweden's Lisa Norden in the women's triathlon final

Nicola Spirig of Switzerland pips Sweden's Lisa Norden in the women's triathlon final

China's Ren Cancan (left) is knocked to the canvas as she fights Nicola Adams during the women's fly gold medal boxing match

China's Ren Cancan (left) is knocked to the canvas as she fights Nicola Adams during the women's fly gold medal boxing match

Spain's team perform in the synchronised swimming teams free routine final

Spain's team perform in the synchronised swimming teams free routine final

Greg Rutherford on his way to winning gold in the men's long jump

Greg Rutherford on his way to winning gold in the men's long jump

Competition begins in the men's Laser on day five of the Games at Weymouth & Portland

Competition begins in the men's Laser on day five of the Games at Weymouth & Portland

Tom Daley is thrown into the pool by the British diving team after winning bronze in the men's 10m platform final

Tom Daley is thrown into the pool by the British diving team after winning bronze in the men's 10m platform final

Angela Maurer of Germany and Spain's Erika Villaecija Garcia dive into the water to start the women's marathon 10km

Angela Maurer of Germany and Spain's Erika Villaecija Garcia dive into the water to start the women's marathon 10km

Mo Farah does Usain Bolt's signature victory pose as Bolt mimics Farah's 'Mobot'

Mo Farah does Usain Bolt's signature victory pose as Bolt mimics Farah's 'Mobot'

Usain Bolt one step close to legend – COMMENT

Bolt moves one step closer to legend with Olympic record-breaking run

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UPDATED:

00:03 GMT, 6 August 2012

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If only he could start. If only he did not party until 5am. If only he was not 95 per cent fit. If only he did not guzzle chicken nuggets.

Just think how good Usain Bolt could be.

But, really, what a performance we witnessed as the world’s most elusive man returned to being the world’s fastest man.

The questions had assailed him across the year and across the globe. He pulled out of competitions, he was in a car crash, he visited his doctor in Germany for magic potions to soothe his back-related injuries, he did not race his training partner and chief rival Yohan Blake other than when he had to — at the Jamaican trials — where he lost.

Close call: Usain Bolt did not run away with the race as he had done four years ago in Beijing, with Blake, Gatlin and Gay all running super quick times

Close call: Usain Bolt did not run away with the race as he had done four years ago in Beijing, with Blake, Gatlin and Gay all running super quick times

Close call: Usain Bolt did not run away with the race as he had done four years ago in Beijing, with Blake, Gatlin and Gay all running super quick times

Here he was back to something approaching his best. His time of 9.63sec was faster than he ran in Beijing four years ago (9.69sec), when his superiority was so great that he launched a mid-race chest-thumping celebration that beguiled the world, if not the IOC president, who thought it disrespectful.

On Sunday he pushed all the way. Yes, he had strolled to the final. But once he got to the start of the big one — 9.50pm London time — he left nothing to chance.

His start was not brilliant but his technique held together. His face told of total application and, given all Bolt’s natural long-striding gifts, it was enough.

‘You guys doubted me and I’ve shown the world that I am the greatest,’ he said. ‘The last 50 metres is where I shine, so I just did that.

‘I’m not concerned by what people
have said. I’ve said it from the start: people can talk. All they can do
is talk. When it comes to the championships, it’s all about business to
me — and I brought it home.’

Bolt’s victory was precisely the
result that athletics needed. He is the star turn, the cavorting
highwire act who reaches out to all ages and colours.

Simply the best: Bolt still crossed the line with daylight between him and the rest

Simply the best: Bolt still crossed the line with daylight between him and the rest

With respect to Blake, the silver medallist, he does not possess the magnetism of Bolt.

As for Justin Gatlin, the bronze
medallist, a victory for him would have represented a desperately low
point in these celebratory Games given his drug-taking habits.

As everyone left the stadium
yesterday — other than us scribblers and a group who hung on to cheer
Bolt’s name — our great former decathlete Daley Thompson’s voice spoke
out, encouraging parents to help their kids take up sport.

It is that near-exhausted word
‘legacy’ that Thompson was addressing. What happens in this stadium will
beget the next generation of our athletes. And no single foot racer
can do more worldwide towards that ideal than the gallivanting hero of
last night.

Yes, it will take schools and clubs
to make themselves available to accommodate newcomers to their ranks,
but the first requirement is for kids to be inspired by Bolt and his
ilk.

We all cherish our Olympic memories
from childhood and are thankful for the nourishment, health-wise and
culturally, that they have given us.

The one hope, which Bolt has
addressed, is that athletics would wither if he fell under suspicion of
drug-taking. He has never failed a test and until he does, should it
ever come, we must celebrate him as a beacon of hope for sport.

Trademark: Bolt strikes his usual pose for the cameras after winning the 100m final in London

Trademark: Bolt strikes his usual pose for the cameras after winning the 100m final in London

Mummy's boy: The sprinter's mother Jennifer and silver medallist Blake join the celebrations

Mummy's boy: The sprinter's mother Jennifer and silver medallist Blake join the celebrations

That sentiment chimes with the
feelgood mood of these Games. You go on to a Tube and people speak to
each other. Yes, on the London Underground with its tradition of blank
faces and averted stares. The stadium roar registers high on the decibel
scale.

It reached its zenith on Saturday
night with the cacophony that cheered on Mo Farah to his 10,000m win,
just after Greg Rutherford and Jessica Ennis had started the athletics
gold rush.

In terms of electrifying capacity,
last night’s race may not have equalled Ben Johnson’s epoch-making run
in Seoul in 1988, before the race was discredited as the most infamously
dirty track deed of all time, or of Bolt’s Beijing pyrotechnics.

It was though, still the fastest race
ever, Olympic or otherwise. Seven of the finalists went under 10sec,
with only Asafa Powell, who pulled up, spoiling the single-figure
neatness.

‘It was wonderful,’ said Bolt of the
atmosphere. ‘I knew it was going to be like this. There wasn’t a doubt
in my mind that it was going to be loud and it was going to be great.
You can feel that energy, so I feel extremely good and I’m happy.

‘This win means I’m one step closer to being a legend. I have the 200m to go.’

As everyone in the stadium
recognised, his status as the presiding genius of the sprinting world
is not in doubt. He just had to show up and prove the point in the blink
of an eye.

London 2012 Olympics 100m bottle incident: Arrest made

Arrest made after bottle thrown on to 100m track just before Bolt's bid for glory

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UPDATED:

00:17 GMT, 6 August 2012

A man has been arrested after a bottle was thrown on to the track at the start of the men's 100m final at the Olympic Stadium on Sunday night.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said a man had been heard shouting abuse and was then seen throwing a bottle immediately before the race, won by Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt.

Scroll down for video

Incident: The bottle, in the red ring, was thrown onto the track

Incident: The bottle, in the red ring, was thrown onto the track

Speaking after the race, United States
sprinter Justin Gatlin, who won bronze, said: 'It was a little
distraction and I didn't know what it was.

'But when you're in those blocks and the whole stadium's quiet you can hear a pin drop.'

Bolt told reporters he had been unaware of the incident.

He added: 'No, I keep hearing that. I don't know who would have done that.'

Disturbance: Justin Gatlin says he heard the bottle but it didn't put him off

Disturbance: Justin Gatlin says he heard the bottle but it didn't put him off

Fellow Jamaican sprinter Yohan Blake,
who claimed silver, said: 'I was so focused I didn't see anything. I was
so focused on just running to the line.'

Edith Bosch, Holland's world judo champion, claimed on Twitter that she had 'beaten' the person who had thrown the bottle.

She said: 'A drunken spectator threw a bottle onto the track! I HAVE BEATEN HIM …. unbelievable.'

Nobody was injured during the incident and the event was not disrupted, police said.

Not standing for it: Edith Bosch claims to have hit the man who threw the bottle

Not standing for it: Edith Bosch claims to have hit the man who threw the bottle

Simply the best: Usain Bolt crosses the finishing line to win gold in the men's 100 metres final

Simply the best: Usain Bolt crosses the finishing line to win gold in the men's 100 metres final

The suspect is being held in police custody at an east London police station on suspicion of causing a public nuisance.

Gatlin said the incident had not
affected the race: 'You just have to block it out and go out there and
do what you got to do. You can't complains about that, the race went on
and it was a great race.'

More to follow.

Usain Bolt wins 100m final at London 2012 Olympics

Bolt proves he is the fastest man on earth again as Jamaican superstar beats rival Blake to 100m gold at London Olympics

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UPDATED:

20:56 GMT, 5 August 2012

Usain Bolt has won the gold medal in the men's 100m at the London Olympic Games after winning the final in 9.63 seconds, a new Olympic record.

Bolt's Jamaican training partner and biggest rival, Yohan Blake, claimed the silver medal and former Olymipc champion Justin Gatlin won the bronze.

Bolt's victory was the second-fastest 100m run in history, behind his world record time of 9.58 secs, set in at the World Championships in Berlin in 2009.

More to follow.

Cruise control: Usain Bolt (right) wins his 100m semi-final ahead of Britain's Dwain Chambers (left)

Cruise control: Usain Bolt (right) wins his 100m semi-final ahead of Britain's Dwain Chambers (left)

Plenty left in the tank: Bolt crosses the finishing line in a time of 9.87 secs in the second 100m semi-final

Plenty left in the tank: Bolt crosses the finishing line in a time of 9.87 secs in the second 100m semi-final

Not quite enough: British sprinter Dwain Chambers looks in vain at the scoreboard after his race

Not quite enough: British sprinter Dwain Chambers looks in vain at the scoreboard after his race

Rising star: Gemili (centre) proved he has a bright future after just missing out on the final

Rising star: Gemili (centre) proved he has a bright future after just missing out on the final

Fastest of all: American Justin Gatlin (right) qualified fastest for the final in 9.82secs

Fastest of all: American Justin Gatlin (right) qualified fastest for the final in 9.82secs

Ever the showman: Jamaican superstar Bolt plays up for the crowd in London ahead of his race

Ever the showman: Jamaican superstar Bolt plays up for the crowd in London ahead of his race

London Olympics 2012: Time for Usain Bolt to give his answer on the biggest stage of all

Time for Bolt to give his answer on the biggest stage of all

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UPDATED:

21:29 GMT, 4 August 2012

The man the London Olympics has been waiting four years to greet finally stepped on to the track just before one o'clock.

Olympics 2012

Even before his name had been mentioned, they were roaring the very presence of Usain Bolt at the Olympic Stadium.

The
Jamaican, likened by one of his rivals to Neil Armstrong – the first
man on the moon – for the scale of his achievements, acknowledged the
cheers, stroked his head and waved to the crowd.

When the gun went, Bolt, as has been his habit, simply stood up out of his blocks rather than accelerating out of them.

Something to prove: Usain Bolt is under pressure

Something to prove: Usain Bolt is under pressure

Well down on his competitors, he then proceeded to reel them all in, stride by lengthy stride, as he loped his way to victory in 10.09sec.

And, so, the questions persist: Is the fastest man in the world, the man who has run 100m in 9.58sec, merely toying with us, making us believe the final will be competitive

Or is he, on a track which is helping to record fast times, about to rewind the clock and revisit that scarcely conceivable time he set at the world championships in Berlin in 2009

Best of the bunch: Ryan Bailey ran the fastest time in the heats

Best of the bunch: Ryan Bailey ran the fastest time in the heats

At the Jamaican trials he was beaten by Yohan Blake over both 100m and 200m and his compatriot jogged over the line in his heat in 10.00.

Another Jamaican, former world record holder Asafa Powell, also ran well within himself in 10.04, as did the American Tyson Gay, the second fastest man ever, in 10.08.

Justin Gatlin, the American banned for four years for taking testosterone, took it a mite more seriously, running 9.97, but still looking mightily impressive as he eased up.

And no one looked better than Ryan Bailey, the third American, who won his heat in 9.88.

Bolt sounded unruffled.

'My start was much better than at the Jamaican trials,' he said. 'I've been doing a lot of work on it but we have come to the conclusion that we shouldn't worry about the start. We should just focus on the rest of the race as we always do, the last 50m – that is my strong point, so that is what we're focusing on.'

Normally that would be enough. But this is a man who has sought treatment on a hamstring injury.

And the four fastest men ever – Bolt, Gay, Powell and Blake – will be in the final. Gatlin would be the fifth fastest if his time had not been ruled out by his drugs ban.

And they will be running on a track that has been designed to stabilise foot control and, therefore, maximise the efficiency of athletes.

So if the capricious English weather holds out, we could be about to witness something very special.

'If everyone's ready to roll and the weather holds on, Blake, Gay, Gatlin and Powell can all run 9.7 here – and Bolt can't give those guys a two-metre start,' said Mike McFarlane, the British former athlete who was fifth in the Olympic 100m final in 1984 and is now a celebrated sprint coach.

'I also really like Bailey and was saying so in the run-up to yesterday's race. Someone could now run 9.95 and not make the final and all eight runners could go under 10sec. If everyone comes to London wanting to party, then this could be the most ridiculously fast race in history.'

Gatlin gun: Justin Gatlin storms to victory

Gatlin gun: Justin Gatlin storms to victory

Gatlin agreed with that. For a drug cheat in denial – he claims he was sabotaged – he speaks eloquently on his event.

'What Bolt did in Berlin was the equivalent of a man walking on the Moon, so when you line up alongside him, you're going to be in awe of him,' he said.

He might have been talking about Britain's James Dasaolu who, with team-mates Dwain Chambers and Adam Gemili, qualified for today's semi-finals. Dasaolu, drawn alongside Bolt, endearingly reached across to grasp the great Jamaican's hand in glee as they qualified together.

Promising: Adam Gemili impressed for Team GB

Promising: Adam Gemili impressed for Team GB

It looked almost like the gesture of a fan rather than a fellow competitor. But then Bolt can have that effect on people, even hardened rivals.

To watch Bolt is to witness a freak of human nature, as Gatlin acknowledged.

'He takes fewer strides than everyone else and he's looking good,' said the American. 'He looks like the real Bolt.'

Maybe, but Gatlin also added that there was nothing to be sacred of and, for once, he did not sound like a man whistling in the dark.

Easy does it: Yohan Blake looked untroubled

Easy does it: Yohan Blake looked untroubled

For Gatlin, Blake and Gay – and perhaps Bailey and Powell, too – should all feel they can get close to Bolt. And that would never have been true three years ago.

'If the Bolt of Berlin turns up, no one can live with him,' said McFarlane. 'But if it's the Bolt we saw at the Jamaican trials, where he was well down at the 30m, that might not be enough.'

Not in this exceptional race. This time, Bolt finally has to answer the questions as the world watches.

Usain Bolt will win 100m final – London 2012 Olympics

Don't believe the hype… Usain is fit and ready to extend his 100m reign

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 3 August 2012

Prepare to be astonished! Usain Bolt is in town, fit and ready to go and determined to achieve his sole aim for these Games of becoming a legend.

'I am here to win, same as Beijing,' said the fastest man on the planet and I cannot see any other result.

Nobody in the history of sprinting has been where Usain Bolt has. None of his rivals know what it is to run 100 metres faster than 9.6sec. None can contemplate covering the length of a straight in 41 strides. For them it is physically impossible. So why would anybody else win the 100m on Sunday evening

Picture perfect: Bolt's image is projected on to The House of Commons in honour of the sprint star

Picture perfect: Bolt's image is projected on to The House of Commons in honour of the sprint star

Yes, he has been beaten by his training partner Yohan Blake in the Jamaican Olympic trials but that was the Jamaican Olympic trials. Bolt only had to finish in the first three to qualify for the team. It is the Olympics that motivate him.

Yes, he has admitted to slight injuries during this summer but they were not so significant that he was prevented from running 9.76sec and only three men have run faster. Ever.

And in spite of those injuries he has run three of the five fastest 100s this year. And, yes, we all know that Blake and Asafa Powell, his compatriots, and Tyson Gay and Justin Gatlin, the Americans, are faster starters.

Wave your flag: Bolt (right) is favourite to win the 100m despite his injury problems

Wave your flag: Bolt (right) is favourite to win the 100m despite his injury problems

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But almost everybody in the field is a faster starter. They were faster starters in 2008 and 2009, and Bolt destroyed them.

Bolt will never be great out of the blocks. His legs are too long. There is not the short, explosive power that there is in the shorter legs of others. But coach Glen Mills has come up with an answer to that.

'You weren't a good starter in Beijing, and you broke the world record. You weren't any better in Berlin and you broke it again. You will never be a great starter but you can still break world records,' is Mills's pragmatic philosophy.

False start: The Jamaican superstar was disqualified at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu

False start: The Jamaican superstar was disqualified at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu

So Blake, and Gay and Gatlin cannot win the 100m. Bolt has to lose it. He could do that at the start – he did in the World Championships in Daegu when he was disqualified. He can do it here if he comes out sluggishly and gives Blake or Gay or Gatlin too much of a lead.

Blake has his supporters but his best is only 9.75sec. Bolt has only to run as fast as he has to win. Can Bolt run as quick again Certainly, and probably faster.

He is stronger now than three years ago and refined by the intervening time under the tutelage of Mills.

The competitiveness of Blake at training has also persuaded him to go easy on the Guinness and chicken nuggets, to shut down the video games before midnight and leave chatting up the ladies in the Athletes' Village until the 100 is done.

He is that much closer to being the complete sprinter. He can run inside 9.5 tomorrow. He will emerge a legend, not a loser.

Olympic kings

London 2012 Olympics: Tyson Gay says 9.8sec not enough for 100m medal

Gay warning! Sprint star says 9.8sec won't be good enough for podium place in 100m

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UPDATED:

06:34 GMT, 20 July 2012

The world's second fastest man, Tyson Gay, says someone may break 9.8 seconds for only the second time in an Olympic 100m final and still fail to win a medal.

'I really truly believe that,' said the American sprinter on Thursday.

'It will take a 9.7 to even get a medal. It's mind blowing,' he added, and the record books back him up.

Tough: Tyson Gay knows how difficult getting a medal will be

Tough: Tyson Gay knows how difficult getting a medal will be

Only once in an Olympic final has a sprinter run 9.7 or faster, Jamaican Usain Bolt smashing the world record with his 9.69 at the 2008 Olympics.

Second placed Richard Thompson of Trinidad and Tobago clocked in at 9.89.

Now with Bolt, Jamaican world champion Yohan Blake, former world record holder Asafa Powell, American Justin Gatlin and Gay headed for an August showdown, one could foresee a 100 metres of historic proportions even without a world record, Gay said.

'It is mind blowing to think four or five people even have the possibility of doing that (9.7) in one race,' said the often-injured Gay who set a personal best of 9.69 seconds in 2009.

Bolt leads the pack with his 2009 world record of 9.58, Powell clocked 9.72 in 2008 and Blake ran 9.75 this year.

That Gay is even in the London mix is a minor miracle.

Contender: Yohan Blake is going for gold

Contender: Yohan Blake is going for gold

As late as early March he could not even jog because of 2011 hip surgery that kept him off the track for almost a year.

He ran his first race in June but still made the U.S. Olympic team later in the month, finishing second to Gatlin in the American trials.

'I still feel something here and there but there is no looking back now,' Gay said of a sore groin. The hip appears much better.

The biggest concerns are bad habits, particularly in his start, that have crept back into his race from a year's inactivity.

'But I am definitely confident going into the Olympics that I will be fit, ready to go and my start will come at the right time,” said Gay, who would like an early birthday present from the Games (He turns 30 on August 9).

Gay appeared so ready for his first Olympic medal after a super quick but wind-assisted 100 metres at the 2008 American trials. But a hamstring injury in the 200 there left him unable to run at top speed in the Games and he went out in the 100 semi-finals.

Title holder: Usain Bolt (front right) is the man to beat

Title holder: Usain Bolt (front right) is the man to beat

'That (a medal) is the missing piece,' said Gay, the 2007 world double sprint champion who has never won an Olympic medal.

'I ask somebody every day how many days left till we start. I think about it constantly.'

Bolt and Blake may grab the headlines, 'but I have the confidence I can win it,' Gay said.

'I am confident I can run 9.7 or better. I don't think I have a choice but to.'

He will test his fitness on Friday by running the third leg on an American 4×100 metres relay at the Monaco Diamond League meeting.

Young Ryan Bailey will lead off the squad with Gatlin running second and Trell Kimmons the anchor.

London 2012 Olympics: Tyson Gay says 9.8s 100m sprint not enough for gold

Sprinter Gay claims 9.8second 100m sprint will not be enough for gold

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UPDATED:

18:07 GMT, 19 July 2012

The world's second fastest man, Tyson Gay, says someone may break 9.8 seconds for only the second time in an Olympic 100 metres final and still fail to win a medal.

'I really truly believe that,' said the American sprinter on Thursday.

'It will take a 9.7 to even get a medal. It's mind blowing,' he added, and the record books back him up.

Tough: Tyson Gay knows how difficult getting a medal will be

Tough: Tyson Gay knows how difficult getting a medal will be

Only once in an Olympic final has a sprinter run 9.7 or faster, Jamaican Usain Bolt smashing the world record with his 9.69 at the 2008 Olympics.

Second placed Richard Thompson of Trinidad and Tobago clocked in at 9.89.

Now with Bolt, Jamaican world champion Yohan Blake, former world record holder Asafa Powell, American Justin Gatlin and Gay headed for an August showdown, one could foresee a 100 metres of historic proportions even without a world record, Gay said.

'It is mind blowing to think four or five people even have the possibility of doing that (9.7) in one race,' said the often-injured Gay who set a personal best of 9.69 seconds in 2009.

Bolt leads the pack with his 2009 world record of 9.58, Powell clocked 9.72 in 2008 and Blake ran 9.75 this year.

That Gay is even in the London mix is a minor miracle.

Contender: Yohan Blake is going for gold

Contender: Yohan Blake is going for gold

As late as early March he could not even jog because of 2011 hip surgery that kept him off the track for almost a year.

He ran his first race in June but still made the U.S. Olympic team later in the month, finishing second to Gatlin in the American trials.

'I still feel something here and there but there is no looking back now,' Gay said of a sore groin. The hip appears much better.

The biggest concerns are bad habits, particularly in his start, that have crept back into his race from a year's inactivity.

'But I am definitely confident going into the Olympics that I will be fit, ready to go and my start will come at the right time,” said Gay, who would like an early birthday present from the Games (He turns 30 on August 9).

Gay appeared so ready for his first Olympic medal after a super quick but wind-assisted 100 metres at the 2008 American trials. But a hamstring injury in the 200 there left him unable to run at top speed in the Games and he went out in the 100 semi-finals.

Title holder: Usain Bolt (front right) is the man to beat

Title holder: Usain Bolt (front right) is the man to beat

'That (a medal) is the missing piece,' said Gay, the 2007 world double sprint champion who has never won an Olympic medal.

'I ask somebody every day how many days left till we start. I think about it constantly.'

Bolt and Blake may grab the headlines, 'but I have the confidence I can win it,' Gay said.

'I am confident I can run 9.7 or better. I don't think I have a choice but to.'

He will test his fitness on Friday by running the third leg on an American 4×100 metres relay at the Monaco Diamond League meeting.

Young Ryan Bailey will lead off the squad with Gatlin running second and Trell Kimmons the anchor.

100m Olympics history – from Jesse Owens to Usain Bolt

From Jesse Owens to Usain Bolt… a history of the Olympics 100m finals

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UPDATED:

09:15 GMT, 13 July 2012

The men’s 100 metres final has been the blue riband event at every Olympic Games, generating the greatest hype and excitement.

It is an event done and dusted in 10 seconds or less, but it carries a great history and dozens of stories.

Times have tumbled over the decades, with Jim Hines the first athlete to run under ten seconds in an Olympic final in 1968.

Jesse Owens

Usain Bolt

History men: Jesse Owens (left) was the golden boy in 1936, while Usain Bolt ruled in 2008

But the advance from cinder to rubberized artificial tracks, the advent of hi-tech running spikes and kits, and the fact that Olympic sprinters now devote their entire year to training help to ever lower records.

We will have to wait and see if the current world record of 9.58 seconds, held by Usain Bolt, will be bettered in London.

But in the meantime, enjoy these video clips of every Olympic 100m final from Berlin in 1936 to the last Olympics in Beijing.

2008 Beijing – Usain Bolt (Jamaica) 9.69

The uncatchable Bolt smashes the world and Olympic records and is so far ahead with 30 metres to go, he cruises over the finish line before celebrating in trademark fashion.

2004 Athens – Justin Gatlin (USA) 9.85

The American Gatlin runs a great race but is almost caught on the line by Portugal’s Francis Obikwelu and his compatriot Maurice Greene. His celebration must also be one of the most reserved in Olympic 100m history.

2000 Sydney – Maurice Greene (USA) 9.87

Following a false start, Greene bursts through the centre to win by a clear margin, an achievement that obviously overwhelms him.

1996 Atlanta – Donovan Bailey (CAN) 9.84

High drama in Atlanta as Britain’s Linford Christie, the defending champion, is disqualified for two false starts. After 10 minutes, the race finally gets underway with Bailey storming from behind to win.

1992 Barcelona – Linford Christie (GBR) 9.96

A great moment for British athletics as Christie, at 32, became the oldest Olympic 100m champion, just edging out Frankie Fredericks of Namibia.

1988 Seoul – Ben Johnson (CAN) 9.79 (*later disqualified)

Johnson wins by some distance – and sets a new world record – but is stripped of the title two days later after the post-race drug test indicated steroid use. Carl Lewis, who came in second, was awarded the gold medal.

1984 Los Angeles – Carl Lewis (USA) 9.99

The long limbs of Lewis carry him away from his rivals to win the first of four gold medals at the Los Angeles Games.

1980 Moscow – Alan Wells (GBR) 10.25

The tightest of 100m wins as Wells and Cuba’s Silvio Leonard cross the line in a photo finish, locked on the same time of 10.25.

1976 Montreal – Hasely Crawford (TRI) 10.06

Crawford, in the inside lane, just holds off the challenge of Jamaican Don Quarrie to win the gold and make amends for the 1972 final, when he pulled up and didn’t finish.

1972 Munich – Valeriy Borzov (SOV) 10.14

Borzov, from the Soviet Union, claims a fairly comfortable victory and, with Robert Taylor of the United States second, a small Cold War success.

1968 Mexico City – Jim Hines (USA) 9.95

Hines dominates this race in Mexico City, setting a sub-10 second time which was equal to the world record at the time. This was the first Olympics held on an artificial ‘Tartan’ track.

1964 Tokyo – Bob Hayes (USA) 10.0

Running on a churned-up cinder track in spikes he had to borrow after his were lost, Hayes ran ten seconds flat to equal the then world record.

1960 Rome – Armin Hary (GER) 10.2

Only six in the final in Rome, as the German Hary, running in the outside lane, took gold on the line from Dave Sime of the United States. Britain’s Peter Radford was third.

1956 Melbourne – Bobby Morrow (USA) 10.62

Morrow achieved great fame in the States after winning a hat-trick of gold medals in Melbourne, of which the 100m was the first.

1952 Helsinki – Lindy Remigino (USA) 10.79

In a thrilling final, Remigino appears to lunge forward over the line, thinking he had won. But Jamaica’s Herb McKenley was right behind him and almost took glory. The officials took some time deciding, but handed it to Remigino. All six runners were separated by just a tenth of a second.

1948 London – Harrison Dillard (USA) 10.3

It’s hard to tell from the video, but this final was a dead heat between Dillard, who was actually a hurdles specialist, and another American Barney Ewell. The photograph on the line showed a win for Dillard by the narrowest of margins.

1936 Berlin – Jesse Owens (USA) 10.3

In these incredible video clips, we see the great Jessie Owens winning his four gold medals in Berlin as an unimpressed Adolf Hitler looks on.

London 2012 Olympics: Usain Bolt beaten again

London set for fastest 100m ever as Bolt is beaten again and rivals smash 10-second barrier

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UPDATED:

21:00 GMT, 2 July 2012

So, Usain Bolt is not quite the ice-veined winner the world thought he was. Twice in 48 hours he has lost to his apprentice friend Yohan Blake and, suddenly, the Olympics has a race on its hands.

Paying up to 750 to watch a 100 metres procession came with magic attached. Could Bolt move back the frontiers in 9.4sec How early in the race could he launch into a celebration How much daylight would there be between him and the pursuing world

But the possibilities now are all together more intriguing. Blake, Bolt’s vanquisher in the 100m at the Jamaican trials on Friday and in the 200m on Sunday night, is suddenly the man to beat. A competition rather than a demonstration beckons us.

Second-best: Bolt (above left) is beaten by Blake (above right) again before receiving treatment

Second-best: Bolt (above left) is beaten by Blake (above right) again before receiving treatment

Second-best: Bolt (above left) is beaten by Blake (above right) again before receiving treatment

It changes the nature of the history that could be written in London’s Olympic Stadium on 100m final night, Sunday, August 5.

Yes, we could yet witness Bolt finding how to uncoil those lanky legs off the blocks – he started desperately slowly in Kingston – so he can run the times he has talked of. But more likely we will see the fastest foot race since cavemen learned to walk: eight men traversing the blue-riband distance of sprinting in under 10sec.

This year alone 17 men have managed the feat, led by Blake’s 9.75sec over the weekend. On a warm night in London, without the wind intervening, who would bet against the 2012 cast transcending the 1991 World Championship peak, when six finalists managed to beat the 10sec mark

Our own Linford Christie ran 9.92sec yet finished fourth. Whither British sprinting, whose fastest competitor this year, teenager Adam Gemili, has run 10.08sec. The fireworks that await us in London will be a foreign affair.
Jamaica, with Bolt, Blake and Asafa Powell, and America, with Justin Gatlin, Tyson Gay and Ryan Bailey, lead the way. Trinidad, through Keston Bledman and Richard Thompson, promise to be bit-part players in the phenomenon. Europe Christophe Lemaitre, of France, has run sub-10sec, but not this year.

Pole position: Blake has made himself the man to beat

Pole position: Blake has made himself the man to beat

WORLD'S FASTEST MEN

Usain Bolt
Jamaica, 25. Season’s Best: 9.76sec.
The Olympic champion and world record holder in the 100m (9.58) and 200m (19.19) is the man to beat but Blake proved he is not invincible in the Jamaican trials at the weekend.

Yohan Blake
Jamaica, 22. SB: 9.75. Bolt’s training partner and current 100m world champion. Fourth fastest in history (9.75).

Justin Gatlin
USA, 30. SB: 9.8. Won Olympic gold in 2004 but was then banned for doping. Ran PB of 9.8 to win US trials.

Asafa Powell
Jamaica, 29. SB: 9.85. Third fastest man in history (9.72) and former 100m world record holder.

Keston Bledman
Trinidad, 24. SB: 9.86.
Won silver in the 4x100m in the 2008 Olympics and ran PB of 9.86 last month.

Tyson Gay
USA, 29. SB: 9.86.
Second fastest in history (9.69) but has never won an Olympic medal because of injury.

Ryan Bailey
USA, 23. SB: 9.93.
Finished third in the US trials behind Gay and Gatlin. Ran a PB of 9.88 in 2010.

Richard Thompson
Trinidad, 27. SB: 9.96.
Ran a PB of 9.89 to take silver in Beijing. Qualified for London with a run of 9.96.

Over in Jamaica, Bolt was coming to terms with his fallibility. Defeat in the 200m was more of a jolt than in the 100m. He has not lost at the longer distance, which suits his 6ft 5in frame more naturally, since 2007. He holds the world record that eclipsed Michael Johnson’s unforgettable 1996 gold medal-winning time.

Bolt looked left as the finishing line approached, his face etched into a grimace. Blake ran 19.8sec, winning by 0.03sec.

Bolt embraced Blake, at 22 three years the younger, before lying on the ground to have his right hamstring stretched out, reinforcing my belief that he has not been entirely injury-free this year no matter what his control-freak retinue might have us believe.

Bolt acted cool, of course. ‘I can never be discouraged,’ he said. ‘I’m never worried until my coach gets worried, and my coach isn’t worried.’

Glen Mills, a sturdy man with a gravelly voice reminiscent of Michael Holding, is coach to Bolt and Blake. He is avuncular and not given to panic. ‘Usain has the experience and the ability and has been there before,’ he said.

‘He might be a little off but I’m sure, when the time of delivery comes around, he’ll be on top of his game.’

Jim Hines first broke the 10sec mark in 1968, in the Olympic 100m final at altitude in Mexico City. Eight athletes accomplishing the feat in one London evening would be more than compensation for Bolt spluttering. Even – well, maybe – at 750 for the privilege.