Just one more race for Usain Bolt, one more victory, one more gold medal to complete what would be an essentially perfect Olympic career. Yet while Bolt could entirely control his own destiny in his individual triumphs in the 100 and 200 meters, the last race of his Olympic legacy is also dependent on the performance of others.
Jamaica is a strong favorite to win the 4×100 relay on Friday night, just as it did in Beijing and London, with Bolt scheduled to run the anchor leg. In his mind, it plays out with him taking the baton already leading, then powering over the line one last time.
In his nightmares, he doesn’t even get the baton at all. The relay is fraught with danger and baton mishaps have derailed even the finest and fastest of teams. Bolt knows it.
“You never know what is going to happen in the relay, anything can happen,” Bolt said. “You have got to get the baton around. It all depends on the team now. If these guys go out and show up, which I expect, it will be good because we have that kind of team.”
The form of Bolt’s teammates has been patchy at these Games. Former world record holder Asafa Powell will just run the relay. Nickel Ashmeade failed to reach the final of either the 100 or 200. Yohan Blake, twice runner-up to Bolt in London, came fourth in the 100 and was eliminated in the semis of the 200.
Those underwhelming displays mean that Bolt is not thinking about the world record, but is solely focused on collecting the ninth gold medal of his Olympic career. The only event he failed to win was the 200 in 2004, when he was just 17, and injured.
“I am not worried about the record,” Bolt said. “In the 4×100 I just want a gold medal. I am going to tell the team to definitely be careful – keep the baton safe, which is going to be one of the key things. I just really want this one to make it nine. I like things in (groups). I like them neat and tidy.”
The primary contenders to the Jamaican relay crown will be the United States, which has a strong team and believes it can topple the reigning champs.