Usain Bolt experienced some of his greatest moments in his career at the 2012 Olympics in London but five years on and back in the same stadium, misery replaced joy on Saturday.
Bolt, who won the individual 100 and 200m and the 4x100m relay in London in 2012, collapsed to the track injured anchoring the Jamaica 4x100 metres relay team. Jamaican team doctor Dr Kevin Jones said Bolt had suffered from “cramp in his left hamstring”.
“But a lot of pain is from disappointment from losing the race,” Jones said. “The last three weeks have been hard for him, you know. We hope for the best for him.”
Interestingly, his dramatic and inglorious end was the fault of world championship organisers, his furious team-mates claimed.
Bolt lay prone on the track but waved away the offer of a wheelchair and eventually, aided by his three team-mates, limped across the line before making a hasty exit.
But his team-mates complained that his problem was caused by organisers keeping the relay teams waiting in the cold.
“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. 40 minutes and two medal presentations before our run’,” said Yohan Blake.
“We kept warming up and waiting, then warming up and waiting,” added the 2011 100m world champion, who also won Olympic relay gold in 2012 and 2016 with Bolt. “I think it got the better of us. We were over warm. To see a true legend, a true champion go out there and struggling like that. The race was 10 minutes late and we were kept 40 minutes.”
Bolt may not have led Jamaica to a glorious finale anyway, though, as he took the baton well behind eventual winners Great Britain and the US.
But Jamaica’s 110m hurdles world champion Omar McLeod – who ran the first leg – likewise pointed the finger at organisers for denying his country’s greatest star a more fitting swansong. “It’s heart wrenching,” said McLeod, who is also the Olympic champion.
“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.”
Their criticism echoed that of Justin Gatlin, who led an American 1-2 alongside team-mate Christian Coleman to deny Bolt a farewell gold in the individual 100m. “I think it was the elements. I am sorry he got this injury. He is still the best in the world,” said Gatlin. “It was a recipe. I don’t want to say this, I understand we need to be ready, but I think we took our clothes off a little too early.It’s a little chilly in here so I think that’s where the cramp came from. That’s what he suffered with. He was running out there cold.”
Despite his relatively unsuccessful championships, Bolt will still be accorded a final lap of honour in a tribute ceremony before the curtain comes down on the World championships later on Sunday.
Saturday’s winners: Men: 5000m: Mukhtar Edris (ETH), 4x100m: Britain, javelin: Johannes Vetter (GER), decathlon: Kevin Mayer (FRA). Women: 4x100m: USA, 100m hurdles: Sally Pearson (AUS), high jump: Maria Lasitskene (ANA).India’s performances: Men: Davinder Singh (80.02m, 12th among 13 in final).
Sunday’s winners: Men: 20km walk: Eider Arevalo (COL) 50km walk: Yohann Diniz (FRA). Women: 20km walk: Jiayu Yang (CHN), 50km walk: Ines Henriques (POR, WR).
India’s performances on Sunday: Men: 20km walk: KT Irfan (1:21.40, 23rd among 64), Devinder Singh (1:25.47, 50), Krishnan Ganapathi (1:28.32 54th). Women: 20km walk: Khushbir Kaur (1:36.41, 42nd among 61).