Bolt takes a tum­ble and can’t com­plete fi­nal race at World Ath­let­ics Cham­pi­onships

Rome News-Tribune - - SPORTS - By Ed­die Pells As­so­ci­ated Press Na­tional Writer

LON­DON — Usain Bolt was ramp­ing into warp speed when sud­denly, stun­ningly, the sprint turned into a som­er­sault.

Fif­teen steps into the fi­nal home­stretch of his fi­nal race, some­thing gave in his left ham­string. The World’s Fastest Man skit­tered to a stop — hop­ping, skip­ping, jump­ing, then fi­nally drop­ping to the ground and tum­bling for­ward be­fore com­ing to a rest.

While the win­ning team from Bri­tain crossed the fin­ish line, Bolt was writhing on the track, where he even­tu­ally wound up chest down with his face pressed into Lane 5. He was cer­tainly every bit as stunned as any of the 60,000-plus who packed the stadium Satur­day, or the mil­lions watch­ing one of the world’s most en­ter­tain­ing show­men make his fi­nal cur­tain call in the 4x100me­ter re­lay at world cham­pi­onships.

There was no cel­e­bra­tion. No gold, no sil­ver, not even a con­so­la­tion bronze, the likes of which Bolt re­ceived a week ear­lier in his fi­nal 100-me­ter race.

Ja­maica closed the night with “DNF” by its name: Did Not Fin­ish. Dead last. Bolt was helped into a wheel­chair, but even­tu­ally got to his feet and, as­sisted by his team­mates, limped gin­gerly across the fin­ish line. He gave a few waves to the crowd, then left for the trainer’s room, and with that, pre­sum­ably left track and field for­ever.

“In­juries are part of our sport and, al­ways, of Usain Bolt lies on the track dur­ing the 4x100-me­ter re­lay fi­nal Satur­day at the World Ath­let­ics Cham­pi­onships.

course, it’s sad to see,” said Wal­lace Spear­mon, the Amer­i­can sprinter who has been close with Bolt for years and was on hand help­ing the U.S. team. “So, yeah, it’s tragic.”

The Ja­maican team doc­tor, Kevin Jones, di­ag­nosed the in­jury that brought a strange end to Bolt’s ca­reer as, sim­ply, a cramp in the cham­pion’s left ham­string.

“But a lot of pain is from dis­ap­point­ment from los­ing the race,” Jones said. “The last three weeks have been hard for him, you know. We hope for the best for him.”

Watch­ing track’s No. 1 sprinter and celebrity drop­ping to the ground was noth­ing short of jaw­drop­ping

— so much so that the fact that Bri­tain won the race, out­run­ning a United States team that, some­what amaz­ingly, didn’t drop the ba­ton, al­most seemed like an af­ter­thought.

Netha­neel Mitchel­lBlake held off U.S. an­chor­man Chris­tian Cole­man down the stretch and the Brits won their first-ever world ti­tle in the 4x100 in 37.47 sec­onds.

When Bolt took the ba­ton from Yo­han Blake for his fi­nal home­stretch, he was in third place, but that was no cause for con­cern. In vir­tu­ally each of the seven re­lay golds he’s won at the Olympics and world cham­pi­onships, Bolt has reeled in the com­pe­ti­tion down the

stretch and won go­ing away, much the same as all his 100 vic­to­ries have played out.

Five years and one day ear­lier, on the very same track, Bolt helped Ja­maica set the world record. That run of 36.84 sec­onds earned Bolt the sixth of nine Olympic vic­to­ries.

But last week in the 100, Bolt’s ex­tra gear was not enough either to catch Cole­man, who fin­ished sec­ond, or to hold off Justin Gatlin, the oft-booed Amer­i­can who came from be­hind to fin­ish first.

Could he have caught his re­lay com­pe­ti­tion in this one? No­body will ever know.

Bolt was gain­ing no ground at the 30-me­ter mark, which is when he felt the pain in his leg Tim Ire­land / The As­so­ci­ated Press

and went tum­bling. After­ward, there was plenty of sec­ond-guess­ing to be done.

Most of it came at the ex­pense of the IAAF, which made the sprint­ers wait about 40 min­utes from the time they were sum­moned from the warm-up room to the time the start­ing gun went off.

“I think this is crazy,” Blake said. “Forty min­utes. Wait­ing. Warm­ing up. Wait­ing. Warm­ing up. It just should not hap­pen. To have your cham­pion go out like that. It’s crazy.”

Said Gatlin, who re­mains in­sis­tent that Bolt will be back some­day: “We lost all of our heat, all of our sweat, and we went out there cold.”

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