Usain Bolt’s glittering career swansong came crashing to an end when he pulled up on the anchor leg of the world 4x100m relay won by Britain on Saturday.
Bolt received the baton with Jamaica in third, but halfway down his leg the towering sprinter pulled up clutching his left thigh, eventually doing a forward roll to the ground, to gasps from the 60,000 sell out London Stadium.
The British quartet of Chijindu Ujah, Adam Gemili, Daniel Talbot and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake claimed gold in 37.47 seconds, with the Justin Gatlin-led US four taking silver at 0.05sec and Japan a surprise bronze (38.04).
Bolt missed out on his bid to retain his 100m title earlier in the week, losing out to Gatlin and silver medallist Christian Coleman, who ran relay anchor for the Americans on Saturday.
But hopes were high for Bolt’s final competitive race, with Jamaica also boasting newly-crowned 110m hurdles champion Omar McLeod, Julian Forte and Yohan Blake in their line-up.
Jamaica were afforded a rousing welcome from the crowd, Bolt applauding the stands, with pictures of him constantly shown on the stadium’s big screens.
Gatlin and the US team also including another convicted doping cheat, Mike Rodgers, and Jaylen Bacon were booed when introduced although the jeering was less than for the individual 100m event.
A close first three legs saw Britain, the United States and Jamaica level-pegged for the final leg.
But there was to be drama as a visibly swearing Bolt pulled up, allowing the Japanese quartet to nip in for third.
The result means Bolt, 100 and 200m world record holder, finishes his career with 14 world medals to go with eight Olympic golds.
Provided by AFP
Three people associated with the Athletics World Championships have contracted the norovirus with another 40 reporting symptoms, Public Health England (PHE) announced on Thursday.
Isaac Makwala, one of those who was diagnosed with the illness on Monday, runs later on Thursday in the 200 metres final having been allowed to run a solo time-trial on Wednesday.
He had been barred from the heats after being placed under quarantine for 48 hours as is required under British health regulations.
The Botswana runner also missed the 400m final due to being in quarantine.
“PHE has been notified of a confirmed outbreak of norovirus among people associated with the World Athletics Championships,” said PHE London deputy director for health protection Dr Deborah Turbitt.
“We have so far been made aware of approximately 40 people reporting illness and three of these cases have been confirmed as norovirus by laboratory testing.
“PHE has been working closely with the London 2017 organisers and venues to provide infection control advice to limit the spread of illness.”
London 2017, the championship organisers, announced on Monday several competitors — staying at the same official team hotel — had suffered gastroenteritis.
A spokesperson for the Tower Hotel on Tuesday insisted it was “not the source of the illness”.
Norovirus is often caught through close contact with someone carrying the virus or by touching contaminated surfaces or objects.
Norovirus, which brings on diarrhoea and vomiting, is rarely serious, with most people making a full recovery within one or two days, without treatment
Wayde van Niekerk never asked to be the saviour of athletics but has been playing the role of its guardian
remarkably well in a World Championships full of controversy.
While athletics governing body the IAAF were castigated for the initial silence in the Isaac Makwala fiasco, Van Niekerk played the role of sporting ambassador in the wake of his 400 metres win. It was a race denied one of the great potential rivalries of this championships when Makwala was pulled for competing because of sickness.
Much like Usain Bolt has done for the past decade, moments after winning the first of a potential golden double in London, he was asked about more than just the race and the medal around his neck. Questioned about the Makwala situation, Van Niekerk said: “I even wish I could give him my medal,” and followed that up by saying his first reaction at hearing the news of his illness and exclusion was to give him a hug.
While the IAAF had said in statements – admittedly too late – that it had empathy for the Botswanan, here Van Niekerk showed the human touch, athlete to athlete. In those few moments, it arguably showed just how ready the 25-year-old is to take over the role of the new king of track and field.
Bolt himself has pre-ordained him thus in the weeks leading up to this World Championship, and while Van Niekerk is embracing it, it does not come entirely naturally to him.
Relatively quiet off the track, “humble” is a key phrase he utters in every press conference and interview. But thrust into the limelight, he is every bit in the mould of a Bolt mark II. Not in the sense that he will ever eclipse what Bolt has done on track, or be quite as colourful of a figure. Yet for a sport crying out for a new star, Van Niekerk has all the trappings.
IAAF president Seb Coe seems to take pleasure in likening Bolt to Muhammad Ali, a not entirely correct analogy, and rather diluting the political and racial stance that the former heavyweight champion of the world took.
But the point is that the sport is bigger than one man – even if Bolt is the biggest athletics has ever had – and can live on after Bolt bows out in the 4x100m relay on Saturday.
In South Africa, Van Niekerk is already a big star but it has taken the affirmation of Bolt for the
nation to fully realise the magnitude of the sporting star in their midst. And the adulation at home and abroad, increasing with every championships, is fully warranted.
His breaking of Michael Johnson’s 17-year-old world record for the 400m in Rio from lane eight was otherworldly, a wide-eyed Bolt admitting it was the run of the championships.
I left the London Stadium on Tuesday night with Ans Botha, better known as Auntie in her native South Africa and the 75-year-old coach of Van Niekerk.
She smiled proudly at the suggestion of him being athletics’ next superstar while agreeing with it at the same time.
“Michael Johnson took nine years to get to this point,” she said, alluding to the golden double that Johnson had achieved in the 200/400m at the 1995 World Championships. “Wayde’s there in five years.”
Late into the London night, it was perhaps a slip of the tongue but it is hard to see past a Van Niekerk double, such has been his ease both on and off the track in the opening six days of this championships. All, it has to be said, very Bolt-esque.