'Lightning' Bolt Pulls Off Sprint Double

BEIJING -- Jamaica's Usain "Lightning" Bolt roared to gold in the 200 meters Wednesday to become the first man since Carl Lewis in 1984 to win an Olympic sprint double.

Bolt, whose father says owes his speed and power to the local yam vegetable, charged to a world-record time of 19.30 seconds, falling to the floor in joy at the end.

"I'm Number One," he mouthed at TV cameras, beating his chest and blowing kisses at the crowd of 91,000 in the Bird's Nest.

Bolt had won the 100-meter there in swashbuckling style at the weekend, also setting a world record.

This time, he again joked on his way to the block, firing an imaginary arrow in the air, but looked deadly serious as he opened up a big gap and steamed through the finishing line to beat Michael Johnson's 1996 record by two hundredths of a second.

Nine men have now won the double sprint in Olympic history.

Bolt, who turns 22 on Thursday, has established himself as the joint hero of the games, along with American swimmer Michael Phelps, who took an unprecedented eight golds.

Just as Phelps' exploits in the Water Cube, passing Mark Spitz's 1972 Munich record, have thrilled Americans, so Bolt has swelled national pride across his Caribbean homeland.

The lanky runner started sprinting only when a school cricket coach noticed his speed as a fast bowler.

While Bolt and Phelps have given the standout performances so far, it is China whose record has dazzled the world.

The host, which came second to the United States in Athens 2004, has 45 gold medals, a seemingly unassailable lead that marks their emergence as an Olympics superpower.

That will delight the Communist government, for whom the $43 billion games are a symbol of China's new global standing.

Local windsurfer Yin Jian pumped and glided her way to a first sailing gold for China. Then Wu Jingyu won gold in women's tae kwon do on another successful day for the hosts.

The United States lies second with a less-than-expected 26 golds, while next Olympics host Britain is a surprising third with 16 golds, its best showing in a century.

Global conflict zones like Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan and the Palestinian territories struggled to send athletes to China, and some competitors had to prepare in appalling circumstances.

Against all odds, though, Rohullah Nikpai won the first Olympic medal in Afghanistan's history -- a tae kwon do bronze.

"I'm very happy," said Nikpai, who fell to his knees, hugged coaches and wept after beating world champion Juan Antonio Ramos.

The International Olympic Committee is delighted at unprecedented global interest in the games.

It said online broadcasts and enormous viewership within China, the world's most populous country, had made the Beijing Olympics the most watched in history.

A record 1.2 billion people are thought to have seen the opening ceremony and 40 million people in the United States alone saw Phelps win his eighth gold medal.