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Lightning Bolt Hits Beijing Olympic Track

A Jamaican sprinter has taken a very short time to rewrite two cherished world records on the track. From the Olympics in Beijing, VOA's Jim Stevenson has more on the man with a name that fits his accomplishments.

Several Olympic reporters have debated how to pronounce Bolt's first name. It is Usain by the way. But the world's fastest man prefers a better name.

"I am Lightning Bolt. I am not Flash Gordon or anybody. My name is Lightning Bolt," he said.

It is an appropriate name since the 22-year-old Jamaican became the first man to shatter both the 100 and 200-meter world records at a single Olympics. On Saturday night in Beijing, the tall one-meter, 96-centimeter Bolt used his long, quick strides to cover 100 meters in a jaw-dropping 9.96 seconds.

The longer distance is his specialty. And no one could keep up with him in that race either as he sped to a record of 19.30 seconds. That time lowered the 12-year-old mark set by American great Michael Johnson (19.32), a record many people thought could not be broken.

Bolt says it is no surprise because the event has been his favorite for a long time.

"I have been saying all season the 200 (meter race) has been my love since I was 15," Bolt noted. "I was the youngest ever to win the world juniors. And from that day on it has meant a lot to me. I have done a lot in the 200-meters, the world junior record holder, world youth, it means a lot. I can not really explain. It is just close to my heart. And I will always love the 200 meters."

Shortly after the second race Wednesday, Bolt was asked how his double gold performance stood against Michael Phelps. The American swimming great won an unprecedented eight gold medals at a single Olympics during the first week in Beijing.

"I can not compare myself," he said. "I will not compare myself to Michael Phelps. He swims. He is a great athlete to win eight gold medals. That is just great. I am on the track. He is in the water. So you really can not compare it pretty much. But he is a great athlete. And I congratulate him on being the best at what he does."

Michael Johnson won the 200 and 400-meter titles at the 1996 Atlanta Games. But Bolt says he is not planning to run longer than his favorite 200-meter distance.

"Do not hold your breath," Bolt said. "I do not think I will be going up to the 400-meters anytime soon. But right now, I guess the next aim is really to just finish the season injury free. And then [I will be] looking forward to the world championships [in 2009]. After the world championships I will probably think about doing something else. I am not sure. Me and my coach will decide that when the time comes."

So for now, the world will just have to be content to marvel at the amazing and historic double Olympic victory by Usain Bolt.