It was meant to be a fairytale finish for Usain Bolt competing in his final 100 metre race. But the 'Thunder' Bolt failed to strike gold as the world witnessed a nightmarish end to the legendary Jamaican's career with two-time drug cheat Justin Gatlin gatecrashing the marquee event of 2017 IAAF World Championships in London early Sunday morning.
Bolt, who will turn 31 on August 21, settled for bronze in the men's 100 metre final as Gatlin produced one of the most thrilling wins of his otherwise chequered career and took the coveted title in a tight finish. Gatlin clocked 9.92 seconds while his American compatriot Christian Coleman finished second with 9.94 seconds. Bolt blamed his disastrous start for a 9.95 seconds timing, which was just enough to beat fellow Jamaican Yohan Blake and to secure the third place.
"My start is killing me. Normally it gets better during the rounds, but it didn`t come together. And that is what killed me. I felt it was there," said Bolt, who was interviewed first despite a third place finish. It's only the second time that the 'world's fastest man' has failed to win a 100 metre race since 2008, after his false start in the 2011 Daegu World Championships.
Like in many of his previous races, Bolt started slowly but this time, he failed to produce the magic as 35-year-old Gatlin won his second world title 12 years after his first. Gatlin has also secured the 100m gold in the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. He is now the oldest 100 metre world champion.
After the race, Gatlin bowed in admiration to Bolt and said "It's just so surreal right now. Usain has accomplished so much in our sport and inspired others." The two were never friends but they respected each other's presence and engaged in talks.
"It is Bolt's last race. It is an amazing occasion. We are rivals on the track but in the warm-down area, we joke and have a good time. The first thing he did was congratulate me and say that I didn't deserve the boos. He is an inspiration," Gatlin added.
Bolt was courteous enough to admit that Gatlin has been a competitor despite the American's history with drugs scandals. It's worth noting that Gatlin was banned from international competition for two years after testing positive for amphetamines in 2001. Then, in 2006, he accepted an eight-year ban which was later reduced to four years.
"He [Gatlin] is a great competitor. You have to be at your best against him. I really appreciate competing against him and he is a good person," Bolt said.
Bolt will bring his incredible career to an end after the London Championships, and was aiming for a 12th world title in the 100m. He is likely to compete in the men's 4x100 metres event lon August 12.
Regarded as the fastest man ever lived, Bolt holds the world record for the 100m (9.58 seconds) and the 200m (19.19 seconds).
The 60,000-member sellout crowd at the Olympic Stadium rooted for the eight-time Olympic and 11-time world champion, but it wasn't to be Bolt's fairytale night.
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