GOING OUT WITH A BANG
Track king Bolt eyes final hurrah
SPRINT superstar Usain Bolt will seek a final golden hurrah when he takes to the track at the IAAF World Championships in London this week.
Bolt has dominated sprinting since taking double individual gold at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, going on to win a further six Olympic gold medals and also picking up 11 world titles.
World records of 9.58 seconds and 19.19s in the 100 and 200m when winning in the 2009 Berlin worlds were followed by the towering Jamaican winning consecutive world gold in the 100, 200 and 4x100m relay in 2011, 2013 and 2015, with the exception of a false start in the 100m in Daegu in 2011.
The 30-year-old scored triple gold at both the 2012 and 2016 Olympics in London and Rio, his sole hiccup being stripped of his 2008 Olympic relay gold after teammate Nesta Carter failed a drugs test.
It is a staggering tally for a track athlete who has admitted he wants to go out on a high as athletics seeks to turn a new page.
“My main aim is just to win (in London). I just want to retire on a winning note,” Bolt said recently in Monaco, where he won the 100m in 9.95s, dipping under the 10s barrier after two sluggish outings in Kingston and Ostrava.
Bolt has opted not to defend his 200m world title, meaning he will not race against South Africa’s Wayde van Niekerk, the athlete Bolt has tipped to take over as the next track and field superstar.
World and Olympic 400m champion Van Niekerk, who will attempt an audacious 200-400m double in London, added: “Usain has been a massive inspiration.
“But I’ve still got quite a long way to go before I even get close to the heights that Usain has reached.”
One of the standout moments of the 2012 Olympics at the same stadium in east London was ‘Super Saturday’, when Britain won three gold medals in the space of an hour to set the packed stadium alight.
Distance running legend Mo Farah, on an unbroken streak of nine global final wins (the 5000m in 2011, and the 5/10km double in 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016). will again compete, but there is no Jessica Ennis-Hill, the heptathlete having retired, or long jumper Chris Rutherford, out injured.
But Jessica will sit atop the podium once more as the world champ sees the reallocation of a number of medals from previous championships including two gold medals.
The upgrades follow the disqualification of the results of the original medallists after their sanction for anti-doping rule violations.
Jessica will pick up a 2011 gold and the US women’s team the 2013 4x400m title.
IAAF President Sebastian Coe, a two-time Olympic 1500m gold medallist, will chair a series of IAAF meetings in the run-up to Friday’s start of the track and field proper.
Coe headed up the IAAF Council meeting late yesterday, with lively discussion expected on Russia, which will miss the worlds because of its state-sponsored doping programme that also saw its athletes barred from the Rio Olympics.
Since then several Russian athletes have been cleared to compete under a neutral flag as the IAAF works with all parties to ensure a transparent anti-doping culture in the track and field powerhouse.
The Council meet is followed by the 51st IAAF Congress with Coe on hand to launch an innovative one-day convention called IAAF Athletics Connect tomorrow.
Tellingly, in Bolt’s swansong season, the convention is designed to “prompt discussion about building a strong future for athletics.”
My main aim is just to win (in London). I just want to retire on a winning note.”