Aug 06, 2017 Sports
Jamaican bows out with bronze finish in last individual race
Daily Mail – A terrible silence met the end of the men’s 100m final in the London Stadium last night. Not only was Usain Bolt, the great hero of the sport, denied victory in his final individual race, but it was won by two time drugs cheat Justin Gatlin. Athletics’ worst nightmare had just unfolded in front of a watching world.
The fans who had packed into the stadium to savour every last moment of this race, hoping for one last signature Bolt moment of celebration, one final flourish, one last waltz, watched in stunned amazement as Gatlin dipped for the line a fraction of a second ahead. Bolt was third, beaten to the silver medal by the young American Christian Coleman.
In the shocked aftermath of the race, everyone seemed to try to pretend that Bolt had won. Gatlin was booed and it was Bolt who was interviewed trackside and told that the whole stadium loved him. Two years ago, it was said that Bolt had saved the sport when he beat Gatlin at the World Championships. So what must the sport think now?
The crowed kept being told that Bolt was the saviour of the sport but this was the worst possible outcome for a saviour. Not just to be beaten in a major final for the first time in ten years but to lose to Gatlin, the American who symbolises everything that is wrong with it.
Bolt had been beaten in the third 100m semi-final of the evening a couple of hours earlier, losing to the young American, Christian Coleman, by one hundredths of a second after another poor start.
It was the first time he had been beaten for four years and the first time he had ever been beaten in the semi-finals of a major championships but no one really believed the result would be repeated in the final.
This was the moment that athletics has been dreading. Not because Bolt lost but because it was the moment when the sport can no longer shelter beneath his wings, the moment when the camouflage of the greatest showman it has ever had, is taken away and the sport has to be judged without him.
For all the reforming efforts of Lord Coe, athletics is still not a pretty sight. Events last night were speckled with competitors called ‘authorised neutrals’, innocent refugees from Russia’s state-sponsored doping programme that has led to the country’s ongoing suspension.
The label makes them sound like extras from Blade Runner.
The crowd here also witnessed another absurdly dominant run by Olympic women’s 10,000m gold medallist Almaz Ayana. It was met with a strange mixture of giddy awe, disbelief and downright cynicism.
This is athletics’ cursed hinterland, a place where even Bolt’s greatness cannot reach.
Colin Jackson pointed out last week that athletics existed before Bolt. Well, yes, but it was not morally bankrupt in the minds of the public before Bolt. It is now. Bolt was all that stood between athletics and the abyss. This is the record that we look back on now: eight gold medals at the Olympic Games in Beijing, London and Rio de Janeiro, 11 World Championship golds and world records in the 100m and 200m that look as though they will take a long time to be beaten.
When he burst into the world’s wider consciousness before those Beijing Olympics, the ebullience of his character was a glorious contrast to the orchestrated order of those Games in the beautiful Bird’s Nest. And in the next nine years, his star shone more and more brightly.
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