Photo: Usain Bolt defends his World 100m title against Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay inside the Birds Nest stadium in Beijing, China. Bolt won in a time of 9.79 while Gatlin finished second in 9.90. Gay was 6th in 10.00.
At 8:15am local time, a hush like you have never heard before, descended over the grand Birds Nest Stadium in Beijing, China which was filled to capacity. The greatness of undoubtedly the greatest sprinter the world has ever seen, was about to be tested. Jamaica’s Usain Bolt was being questioned, no challenged, by his great rival, Justin Gatlin of the USA.
For two years Bolt had hardly competed. Battling injuries in 2014, the World and Olympic champion shut his season down early to give his body some rest, when all the while, Gatlin who had recently returned to the sport of track and field, after drugs suspension, was running faster and faster.
The challenges with injuries continued for the Jamaican in 2015 while the American flogged all who showed up on the circuit, running 9.7’s at will.
But there are many clichés for situations such as this; “cometh the hour, cometh the man”, comes readily to mind and “lightening doesn’t strike the same place twice” is also a fitting one, considering the nickname of the great Jamaican.
Bolt was under pressure, immense pressure, you could tell by his demeanor. The usual flashy smile barely crept through. The antics before the race were at a minimum, but it was understandable. He is allowed to be human, sometime.
Nine men lined up in the final - unprecedented. Such was the closeness of the semifinals that nine were allowed to run in the final instead of the usual eight. Four Americans, two Jamaicans, a Frenchman, a Canadian and yes, a Chinese athlete, Bingtian Su, who had already etched his name in history just by being in the race.
The sound of the starter’s gun not only released the athletes but it released a great roar from an expectant crowd who watched in near delusion as Gatlin led the race with 20 meters to go. But as the race went on Bolt closed the gap and a misstep, a stumble even, by Gatlin, just as Bolt had done at the start of his semifinal, was the deciding moment in a epic final. Bolt surged to the lead almost at the line to win in 9.79s to Gatlin’s 9.80.
It certainly wasn’t the fastest race by the world record holder, but times don’t get written onto medals. It really didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered was that lightening had indeed struck twice, ‘Lightening Bolt’ that is.
The Legend had returned to the scene of perhaps his greatest triumphs, to prove that he was still the man!
Third place was shared by Canadian sprint sensation Andre De Grasse and American Trayvon Bromell in the identical time of 9.92s. Fifth and sixth place went to the other Americans Mike Rodgers and Tyson Gay, 9.94 and 10.00 respectively. Jamaica’s Asafa Powell and France’s Jimmy Vicaut, both credited with 10.00, were 7th and 8th while the Su finished in 9th in a modest 10.06.