GO­ING OUT WITH A BANG

Track king Bolt eyes fi­nal hur­rah

New Straits Times - - Sport -

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.”

USAIN BOLT

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