The stage was set for the sprint king, Usain ‘Lightening’ Bolt for his farewell race. An electric crowd of 55,900 cheered their hero at the iconic London Stadium as the fastest man on the planet bid adieu to the race track. The final race of Usain Bolt on Saturday night ended in a Bronze medal much to the dismay of his fans who have expected their hero to say a golden goodbye.
The winner of the race and the gold medal went to Bolt’s long time rival, the 35-year-old American sprint machine, Justin ‘Gatlin Gun’. Though the crowd booed for him, however, Gatlin managed to win his first 100m finals race since 2005. The race turned out to be a total ripper, with Gatlin winning the gold in 9.92 seconds, fellow countryman, 21-year-old Christian Coleman took silver in 9.94 seconds while Bolt took bronze in 9.95, his slowest time ever in a 100m final race.
Bolt who turns 31 this month said that he is sorry to his fans for not winning the gold in his farewell dash. Well, not all things go as planned, Bolt who after his triple-gold-medal performance at last year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro was expected to win here again just couldn’t make it. Bolt was all praises for Gatlin calling his defeat only as a loss to a great competitor. Bolt was also praising the young Christian Coleman. He said that he has no regrets taking bronze as Coleman gives him the belief that the sprint game is in good hands. Coleman has earlier defeated Bolt in the semifinal heats as well, ending the star sprinter’s 28-race winning streak in the 100 meters.
In his final race, Bolt has a shaky start off the blocks. He had the slowest reaction time to the gun and took off pretty slow from the blocks. This is something that he has recovered from in the past in his career but not this time. May be age just caught up with the big man and he couldn’t get back when it mattered the most. Usually, it was Bolt who made victory look so easy and so often in his career but this time, he was struggling. The grimacing, hand stretched out, mouth and eyes wide open, something synonymous to his past races was missing this time. Never the less, the big man played it cool and gave full respect to his opponents.
This was Bolt’s first bronze at a world championship, and it left the crowd heartbroken. Instead, the race turned out to be Gatlin’s moment of resurrection that for years has been playing under Bolt’s shadow. The two have had quite the rivalry in the last decade with 2015 world championship in Beijing being the closest when Bolt beat Gatlin by just one-hundredth of a second. Saturday’s race was very different when both the sprinters had nothing but respect for each other. Gatlin became the oldest man to win 100m at a world championship. For fans who want to see Bolt in action again will have to wait till next Saturday when the Jamaican takes part in the 4×100-meter relay for Jamaica. But for now, it is goodbye from the 100m arena for sure.
This might be his last race but Bolt has had quite the fan following and respect all around the globe. What actually turned a lanky Jamaican boy into a global phenomenon? The key to this lies in the fact that Bolt has won almost every title in the sprinting world yet he has never fallen under the clouds of controversy or doping. Even when his fellow Jamaican compatriots have tested positive for banned substances, Bolt was always clean. Bolt belongs to an elite club that consists of Carl Lewis and Maurice Greene to win three world 100-meter titles.
Bolt has been a fan favorite ever since he burst on to the big stage. He made the 100m his own at three Olympics and did a clean sweep. Bolt swept aside his opponents at the 100 and 200 mt in Beijing, London and again in Rio. The fastest man has left a big void to fill is golden spikes. Breaking his world records still looks like a monumental challenge.