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Donovan Bailey Getty
03 Aug 1996
Atlanta 1996 , IOC News , Athletics

Bailey blazes to 100m glory

The Olympic men's 100m final is arguably the most widely anticipated contest of the Games and has a record of producing dramatic twists and memorable stories.

In Atlanta, the defending champion was Great Britain's Linford Christie. He qualified for the final once more, but faced intense competition from a formidable field that included the USA’s Dennis Mitchell, Frankie Fredericks of Namibia, Canada's Donovan Bailey and Ato Boldon from Trinidad and Tobago.

Christie was now 36 years old and already a grandfather, but he still oozed confidence and determination.

After a nervy build-up that saw two false starts caused by Christie and then Boldon the runners settled into their blocks for a third time, sprinted off again, but were called back once more. The replay showed Christie marginally jumping the start, and that second infringement meant he was disqualified. The British runner was stunned, and initially refused to accept the decision. Only after a couple of minutes of heated discussion did he walk away, and was left to watch the race from the tunnel.

Finally, the remaining athletes went off for the fourth time, and this time it was a clean start. Mitchell took an early lead before Boldon passed him and held the advantage at halfway, but the fastest man over the closing stages was Bailey, who powered past Boldon over the closing 30 metres to win in 9.84 seconds, which was 0.05 seconds clear of his closest rival and a new world record.

Bailey Blazes Getty

The race was exceptionally fast, underlined by the fact that Mitchell became the first man to run sub-10 seconds in an Olympic final and fail to win a medal.

Bailey dedicated his victory to his uncle Keith, who was battling against cancer. What he didn't know was that Keith had actually passed away the previous night – Bailey's family had kept the news from him so that he could concentrate on the final.

Bailey was not done yet, as he was also Canada’s anchor in the 4x100m relay. In the final, the USA led going into the first change, but, after a perfect handover the Canadians came out ahead and they then extended their lead for the next 200m. The final leg saw Bailey sprint to perfection, then cross the line with his arms punching the air in triumph as he claimed another Olympic gold.

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