Bolt from blue wrecks final farewell
Drama as injury upends Usain in his last race
LONDON — Usain Bolt’s unparalleled career ended in extraordinary drama on Saturday as he pulled up with injury on the anchor leg of his very last race, the 4x100 meters relay final at the World Athletics Championships.
The 30-year-old had taken the baton for Jamaica a few meters adrift of the two leaders when, straining hard to catch them, he stopped abruptly with cramp in his left hamstring, began hobbling and tumbled to a halt after a forward roll.
As the British quartet of CJ Ujah, Adam Gemili, Danny Talbot and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake went on to win gold, Bolt lay on his back in his lane, his head in hands, being tended to by medics as one waited with a wheelchair to help push him off the track.
Yet the sport’s greatest entertainer was determined that he was not going to bow out in a wheelchair.
So the fastest man of all time, surrounded by his three concerned teammates — Omar McLeod, Julian Forte and Yohan Blake — rose gingerly to his feet and limped the last 30 meters to the line.
The official result recorded that the Jamaicans did not finish, but Bolt was determined to complete his last race after a matchless career in which he won 19 major championship gold medals.
Bolt’s only thoughts were with the teammates he felt he had let down.
“He kept apologizing to us but we told him there was no need to apologize,” Forte said. “Injuries are part of the sport.”
McLeod added: “It just happened — Usain Bolt’s name will always live on.”
Justin Gatlin, the American winner of the 100m who had consigned Bolt to third in his final individual race last Saturday, paid tribute to his rival.
“I think it was the elements (that caused the injury). I’m sorry he got this injury. He is still the best in the world,” Gatlin said.
“This is farewell time, I am sentimental about it already now. In the warm-up area, we give ourselves respect and greeted each other. Usain Bolt is a great athlete.”
Kevin Jones, the Jamaican team doctor, confirmed Bolt had suffered cramp in his left hamstring.
Blake was angry at having to wait for two medal ceremonies to take place before the race.
“It was 40 minutes and two medal presentations before our run. We were kept 40 minutes. It was crazy,” Blake said. “They were holding us too long.
“We keep warming up and waiting, then warming up and waiting. I think it got the better of us.
“It hurts to see a true legend, a true champion go out there and struggle like that.”
Jamaica’s team manager Ian Forbes praised Bolt for “going out there and giving his all” and added that the squad was “very saddened”.
“The diagnostic work will be done shortly to determine how serious it is. He was able to walk to the team bus so hopefully that signals it’s not as serious as it possibly could be,” Forbes said.
With the 56,000-strong crowd going wild about the British victory, there was still time for them to hail the sport’s favorite performer, who waved to them a little forlornly while hobbling off the track.
Five years ago, almost to the very night, British distance-running hero Mo Farah had copied Bolt’s lightningbolt celebration in this same stadium, and the Jamaican had reciprocated with the Briton’s trademark “Mobot” pose to mark their supremacy at the London Olympics.
Yet in the same stadium on Saturday, they attempted in vain to reprise that triumphant night, Farah ending up with silver in his final track
Justin Gatlin agreed with the complaints of the Jamaican relay team that a long wait before their 4x100m final at the World Athletics Championships on Saturday contributed to the injury suffered by Usain Bolt in his last race.
Bolt, having been passed the baton by Yohan Blake, was in third place behind Britain and the United States, which eventually won gold and silver, but pulled up almost 50 meters from the line and fell to the track.
Jamaica’s team doctor later said that the 30-year-old had suffered a hamstring cramp.
Bolt’s teammates complained that a 45-minute wait in the call room before the race had hampered their preparations.
“I think they were holding us too long in the call room,” Blake told reporters. “Usain
was really cold. In fact Usain said to me ‘Yohan, I think this is crazy’. Forty minutes and two medal presentations before our run.”
Gatlin, who beat Bolt to gold in the 100m last Saturday, agreed with the complaints and laid the blame at the television scheduling for the event.
“I know it’s TV magic, and everybody has to be prepared on time to make everything happen for the viewers at home.
“(But) I personally think that we were held in the stadium a little too long without our clothes on, and there was a little draught in there. I lost all my sweat and body heat,” Gatlin said.
When asked if he thought that contributed to Bolt’s injury, the 35-year-old replied: “I believe so.
“Knowing how Usain performs, he’s always ready, he’s always making sure he’s not injured and it’s very rare to see Usain injured when he comes to performances.”
Gatlin ran the second leg for the United States as it finished runner-up behind Britain, which took gold in the event for the first time.
Amid the home crowd’s jubilation, there was also relief at the sight of Bolt being able to walk off the track after being helped to his feet by his teammates.
“I’m not sure what the extent of his injury is, but when I saw him go down I thought it was a calf cramp or a hamstring cramp. But he walked off the track, so that’s good thing.
“I hope that he gets well soon,” Gatlin added.
race, the 5,000m, and Bolt suffering his anti-climactic farewell.
Their leaving of the track scene leaves a void in the sport that does not look like being filled any time soon.