AFP Sports list five of the most memorable track races featuring Jamaican Usain Bolt, who brought down the curtain on his glittering career on Saturday.
Bolt’s arrival on the global stage was confirmed with a sensational run in the 200m at the Beijing Olympics.
Just days after winning the 100m in a then-world record 9.69sec, the Jamaican won over legions of new fans by sprinting to victory in 19.30sec, beating American Michael Johnson’s long-standing world record.
“I worked so hard to become champion and I will work harder to stay at the top,” Bolt said.
After overcoming a false start in the semi-final, Bolt delivered his best-ever performance in the 100m.
Covering the first 60 metres in an unprecedented 6.31 seconds, Bolt did not ease up and in 41 strides streaked through the finish line in an amazing world record of 9.58sec, a mark that will likely be unchallenged for many years to come. He followed that up by bettering his 200m to 19.19sec just days later.
“For me, anything is possible,” Bolt said.
The defining moment of the world championships in South Korea was a false start by Bolt, gifting the 100m title to teammate Yohan Blake.
The non-result is Bolt’s sole hiccup on the world stage.
“Looking for tears?” Bolt asked. “Not going to happen, I’m okay.”
After winning two more world golds in the blue riband event, Bolt raced through to an unprecedented treble of three consecutive Olympic 100m golds, an astonishing achievement in an event where injury often puts pay to a long string of victories.
After winning the opening 100m in Rio, Bolt said: “Somebody said I can become immortal.
Two more medals to go and I can sign off. Immortal.” Needless to say, he bagged two more golds.
Bolt opted to compete solely in the 100m at the London worlds in his swansong season.
But the dream of a fourth title was broken by American arch rival Justin Gatlin, who has served two bans for doping.
Gatlin’s teammate Christian Coleman snatched silver, with Bolt taking bronze.
But it was Bolt who was received like a hero at the London Stadium while Gatlin was roundly booed and jeered. “It’s not the perfect script,” admitted IAAF president Sebastian Coe.
Bolt was incredibly gracious in defeat, which saw Gatlin bow down on one knee before him after the race.
“The first thing he did was congratulate me and say that I didn’t deserve the boos. He is an inspiration,” Gatlin said of Bolt.
Furious Yohan Blake hit out at organisers after Usain Bolt’s dramatic final race at the World Championships.
Eight-time Olympic champion Bolt sensationally pulled up injured with 50 metres to go of the 4×100 metres relay and fell to the track with Great Britain taking gold just ahead of the USA and Japan.
The race started 10 minutes later than scheduled with two medal ceremonies for the 5,000m – with Sir Mo Farah getting his silver medal – and the high jump taking place before.
Bolt’s sudden injury ended his career in sorry style after he planned to retire from the track following the championships, having already won bronze in the 100m last weekend.
And Blake, who won Olympic 4x100m relay gold with Bolt and Jamaica in 2012 and 2016, believes the lengthy build-up caused Bolt’s injury in London on Saturday night.
“I think they were holding us too long in the call room. The walk was too long. Usain was really cold. In fact Usain said to me, ‘Yohan, I think this is crazy’,” said the 100m world champion from 2011.
“It was 40 minutes and two medal presentations before our run. We keep warming up and waiting, then warming up and waiting. I think it got the better of us.
“We were over warm. And to see a true legend, a true champion go out there and struggling like that…
“The race was 10 minutes late, we were kept 40 minutes and it was a 300 metre walk. It was crazy.”
Team-mate Omar McLeod echoed Blake and criticised the organisation with his heart going out to Bolt.
He said: “It’s heart-wrenching. I gave it my all and I really wanted Usain to leave golden, or even if it was just a medal, it was really heart-wrenching.
“I couldn’t believe it, I’m in shock, utter disbelief.
“It was ridiculous, man. We were there around 45 minutes waiting outside, I think they had three medal ceremonies before we went out so we were really trying our hardest to stay warm and keep upbeat.
“But it was ridiculous. We waited a really long time. I drank like two bottles of water.”
Team-mate Julian Forte, running in his first World Championships, added: “I really wanted to be a part of the team that sends Usain off in style. Unfortunately it’s one of those things, it’s part of sport.
“They kept us in the call room for an extremely long time in our running kits, and it’s not the warmest over here and they had us around there for quite a while, so I think they really need to look into that and do something about it.
“We were excited, we were ready, we had been doing some hand offs and everybody was feeling good, but they kept us hanging around for a long time, you know. So it’s just really crazy.”
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