Bolt from blue wrecks fi­nal farewell

Drama as in­jury up­ends Usain in his last race

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS -

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.

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