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Houston: now I am an Olympian

Tre Houston might not have achieved his ambitious aim of reaching the 200 metres semi-finals, but he took plenty of satisfaction from knowing he had fulfilled his Olympic dream.

Not for a second has Houston considered himself an Olympian despite spending more than two weeks at the sprawling Athletes' Village waiting for his competition.

That all changed yesterday at the Olympic Stadium when he crossed the finish line sixth in his heat in a time of 20.85sec.

It was more than four-tenths of a second off his personal best of 20.42 and although Houston hoped to run faster, he admits Rio has been an experience of a lifetime.

Having his parents, Lloyd and Stacy Van Putten, in the crowd made the moment all the more special for the 26-year-old, who failed to qualify for London in 2012 by two-tenths of a second.

“I'm an Olympian now!” Houston declared. “Everyone kept saying to me, ‘Why haven't you changed your bio [on the internet] yet?' I told them, ‘Because I haven't run yet; I haven't passed the finish line yet'.

“I didn't consider myself an Olympian until I crossed the finish line. Now I will change it.”

Houston, who is based in his namesake city in the United States, became the first Bermudian Olympic sprinter since Xavier James at Athens in 2004.

“It feels great to be part of all this,” said Houston, who came 63rd overall.

“It's been 12 years since Bermuda's had an Olympic sprinter. I've written my book now and my name is in history.

“I'm walking away with a smile on my face because a lot of people dream about this but don't get this far.”

Houston would have needed a huge personal best to force his way into one of the two qualifying berths.

Nery Brenes of Costa Rica won the heat in 20.20 and Churandy Martina of Holland came second in 20.29.

“A lot of people were behind me today and I had thousands of messages on Facebook,” Houston said. “That touches me a lot and if I disappointed anyone, I'm sorry.

“I'm glad my parents were here today to see this moment and I know they're proud of me.

“I came here wanting to reach the semi-finals and my target was to PB, but I ran a 20 point and as long as I don't see a 21 on the clock I'm happy.”

Houston aggravated his sartorius muscle [which runs from the hip to the knee] shortly after posting a personal best in the 100 in 10.28 at the Aliann Pompey Invitational in Guyana in June.

He believes the three weeks of training he missed because of the injury cost him “raw speed” in Rio.

“The injury felt great today and I'm making no excuses,” he said.

“It's hard to be healthy throughout the whole year and you always have a few little bumps in the road.

“I got out really well and my speed and endurance is really good, but I'm just losing that raw speed since the injury.”

Houston believes his best times are ahead of him and hopes to change his biography to “Tre Houston, two-times Olympian” by qualifying for the 2020 Toyko Games.

“The Rio experience has been awesome and I think I will go on for another four years,” Houston said. “I'm using this as a stepping stone and I think Tokyo will be my time.”

In an earlier heat Usain Bolt cruised into the semi-finals at a relatively pedestrian 20.28 seconds.

Bolt did nothing more than he had to do to qualify.

He lumbered out of the blocks. His .177 reaction time was the slowest of the eight runners.

That has turned every 100-metres sprint he's run into a come-from-behind affair, where his pure speed takes the day.

In this case, it was over before Bolt even got to the straightaway.

All those looks to his right weren't so much taunting — no sign of that smile seen around the world in his 100-metre semi-final — but more a way of ensuring he doesn't waste a lick of energy.

“I came out here to qualify,” Bolt said, “and that's what I did.”

A rare breed: (from left) Davide Manenti, of Italy, Houston, Brendon Rodney, of Canada, and Churandy Martina, of the Netherlands, compete in a men's 200-metres heat at the Olympic Stadium (Photograph by David J. Phillip/AP)

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Published August 17, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated August 17, 2016 at 1:05 am)

Houston: now I am an Olympian

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