Gatlin wins Bolt’s last 100-me­ter race

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Raf Casert

LON­DON» Usain Bolt was no longer stun­ning. He was just stunned.

At the end of a ca­reer in which he has dom­i­nated his sport for a decade, Bolt was beaten in his fi­nal 100-me­ter race by an Amer­i­can al­most five years his se­nior — Justin Gatlin.

Call­ing it quits at the age of 30 and look­ing for a golden farewell in his last in­di­vid­ual race at the world cham­pi­onships, Bolt lost to a man who pro­duced a come­back not only on Satur­day but also through a dop­ing-tainted ca­reer.

In a tight fin­ish, Bolt was pun­ished for his slow start and Gatlin fought back to nip ev­ery­one at the line in 9.92 sec­onds. Christian Cole­man took sil­ver in 9.94 sec­onds, while Bolt got bronze in 9.95.

“My start is killing me,” Bolt said. “Nor­mally it gets bet­ter dur­ing the rounds but it didn’t come to­gether.”

Gatlin knows what Bolt has meant to the sport, gra­ciously bow­ing in ad­mi­ra­tion in front of him — even af­ter beat­ing him. The two men, never re­ally friends, warmly em­braced and spoke.

“It’s just so sur­real right now,” Gatlin said. “Usain has ac­com­plished so much in our sport and in­spired oth­ers.”

When his vic­tory sank in, Gatlin let out an almighty roar and then put a fin­ger in front of his mouth for si­lence as the crowd con­tin­ued to show him dis­re­spect.

It was an amaz­ing turn­around for Gatlin, who was the Olympic cham­pion in 2004 be­fore Bolt emerged and won an un­prece­dented three straight 100-me­ter ti­tles at the Olympics. Thir­teen years later, Gatlin bounced back to win in the Ja­maican’s last in­di­vid­ual race.

In be­tween, Gatlin’s ca­reer was stopped twice for dop­ing sus­pen­sions. Yet fight­ing con­tro­versy all the way since, he got per­haps his great­est gold at 35.

“It was al­most like 2004 all over again,” Gatlin said. “I won by a lit­tle mar­gin, and to be able to come across the line is amaz­ing.”

The 60,000 fans at sold-out Olympic Sta­dium, ready for a party in a race they were con­vinced Bolt would win, had to ac­knowl­edge a cham­pion they re­lent­lessly booed over the open­ing two days of the cham­pi­onships.

It turned into awk­ward scenes, with the cham­pion be­ing over­looked for the bronze medal­ist.

“It’s not about the crowd,” Gatlin said. “I tuned it out through the rounds and stayed the course.”

Bolt didn’t smile any less af­ter­ward.

“It is just one of those things,” Bolt said, show­ing his care­free de­meanor even in de­feat. “It has been bril­liant.”

Bolt was again slow out of the blocks in the fi­nal and came back strong, but he ended up short. When he ran out of steam, Gatlin gath­ered more.

“He knows how hard I work,” Gatlin said. “Tonight was all about the W (win), and I man­aged to sneak it.”

The 100 fi­nal was over­whelm­ing, and so was the women’s 10,000 me­ters.

Al­maz Ayana won in 30 min­utes, 16.32 sec­onds — 46.37 sec­onds ahead of Ethiopian team­mate Tirunesh Dibaba.

Michael Steele, Getty Im­ages

Ja­maican star Usain Bolt re­acts Satur­day night to fin­ish­ing third in the men’s 100 me­ters at the world cham­pi­onships of track and field in Lon­don.

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