20 million watch Usain Bolt to glory in Olympic 100m final

The Jamaican sprinter's victory beat performances by Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah to become the most-watched sporting event of the Olympics so far

A TV audience of 20 million watched Usain Bolt break the Olympic 100m record last night to become only the second man in history to retain the title, after Carl Lewis.

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As Bolt clocked a time of 9.63 seconds to relegate fellow Jamaican Yohan Blake and America’s Justin Gatlin to the silver and bronze medal positions, 19.4 million viewers were watching on BBC1 and BBC1 HD, with a further 628,000 tuned to the BBC Olympics 3 digital channel via the Red Button service.

The BBC1/HD audience constituted a mammoth 64.5% share of those watching TV across the UK when the race was run at around 9:50pm.

The final was the most-watched sporting event so far at the London 2012 Olympics, topping even the peak audience of 16.3 million that saw Britain’s Jessica Ennis complete her Heptathlon victory in the 800m, and the 17.1 million who subsequently watched her GB teammate Mo Farah cross the line to take 10,000m gold on BBC1/HD on Saturday night.

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In fact, Bolt’s performance was second only to that of Danny Boyle, whose Olympic opening ceremony drew a peak audience of 26.89 million (81.6%) on Friday 27 July, also at 9:50pm.