Photo: World 100m champion Justin Gatlin pays homage to Usain Bolt shortly after winning the final. Christian Coleman was second and Bolt finished third in the final major championships of his career. (AP PHOTO)
The London IAAF World Championships was always earmarked as the final major championships for the Jamaican sprint legend Usain Bolt. The 30 year old has wowed the world of track and field since the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and won the 100m gold medal at the World Championships on three separate occasions.
Saturday night, his swansong, was supposed to be when he won his third consecutive and fourth 100m gold, but his rival American Justin Gatlin never got the memo. After less than ideal preparations leading up to the championships, Bolt labored to get out of the blocks in the heats and semifinals before saving his poorest start for the final, an error that would cost him dearly.
The young American protagonist and fastest man over the 100m this year, Christian Coleman, who ran out of lane five, was fastest out the blocks and led the race for most of the way chased by Bolt in lane four and the rest of the pack. But running out of lane eight and below the radar since the start of the championships, the veteran Justin Gatlin held his form and powered to the line to out lean his American teammate at the tape to take gold in 9.92s. Coleman was second in 9.94 and Bolt, who failed to produce his usual late surge, had to settle for third in a season’s best 9.95s.
A stunned crowd inside the Olympic Stadium in London could barely react to what they had seen, Usain Bolt had been beaten and by the villainous Gatlin no less.
But what has made Usain Bolt such a global superstar is not just what he does on the track but the way he reacts with the crowd. His farewell lap of honour was another class act as he greeted the crowd in his own inimitable style. The other Jamaican in the race was Yohan Blake who admitted to making mistake in finishing fourth in a time of 9.99.
Other Jamaican performers in the evening session of day two were Fedrick Dacres and Traves Smikle in the Men’s discus final. Dacres who had been hoping for podium finish had to settle for fourth place with a best throw of 65.83m while Smikle finished 8th with a best of 64.04m. The gold medal was won by Andrius Gudzius of Lithuania with a personal best throw of 69.21m. Silver went to the favourite Daniel Stahl of Sweden who had a best of 69.19 while the bronze went to American Mason Finley who had a personal best of 68.03m.
Damar Forbes had a tough time of it in the men’s long jump final, failing to get beyond the 8m mark and finishing 12th with a best of 7.91m. South African Luvo Manyonga obliged in winning gold with a leap of 8.48m. Jarrion Lawson of the USA took silver with a season’s best 8.44m while the other South African Ruswahl Samaai took the bronze with 8.32m.
The attention will turn to the women’s 100m on day three and many will be hoping that Elaine Thompson will lift the spirits of the Jamaican track and field fans by winning gold in the day’s final event.