Sports

Battling bronze!

Bolt's curtain falls, but women land sprint relay bronze

HOWARD WALKER
AT THE 16TH IAAF
WORLD CHAMPS
IN LONDON

Sunday, August 13, 2017

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London , England — Usain Bolt's glittering athletics career ended in disappointment as he pulled up injured in the 4x100m relay final, thus ripping the script to shreds for the golden goodbye for the greatest sprinter of all time.

While anchoring Jamaica's team for the last time, Bolt collected the baton from Yohan Blake just behind Great Britain and the USA in third spot and, after approximately 25 metres, he hauled up in pain and ended his remarkable career on the turf with what appeared to be a hamstring injury.

Great Britain upset the apple cart in 37.47 seconds, pipping the USA into second with 37.52 seconds, while Japan grabbed bronze in 38.04 seconds.

Bolt was just about to get into top gear when he grimaced, held the baton up in his right hand, before falling over front ways, as his long-time partner Blake went on his knees in disbelief.

The packed Olympic Stadium was in a state of confusion as british fans celebrated their team's success while their much beloved global star was left writhing in pain. It was not the image fans wanted to remember but, sadly, it was the last one of the legend.

Bolt was helped to his feet by his teammates and medical personnel and limped away to applause as fans said goodbye to the fastest man that ever lived.

Nugent Walker, his lifetime best friend and executive manager, who was there at the beginning, was also there at the end. He raced onto the track to assist.

The applause kept going until Bolt was no longer visible as he made his way to the medical area for treatment.

Blake, who had the distinction of handing the final relay baton to Bolt, was just as distraught, and disappointment was evident on his face as he and teammates blamed the officials for holding the athletes for far too long in the call room.

“Well, he didn't get to do what he wanted to do; things didn't go his way. He was feeling really good and we were feeling in high spirits. I think they were holding us too long. It was a long walk as well, and inside was really cold, and two medal presentations before we run,” bemoaned Blake.

“I didn't like it to see Usain, the world's fastest man, struggling like that. His muscle froze on him and we were so distraught. He is my true friend and training partner and I felt it,” he added.

Julian Forte, who ran a scorcher on the backstretch, also speculated that Bolt's injury could have been due to the long waiting period before the race.

“They kept us in the call room extremely long, so we were getting cold. It's not the warmest weather over here, and they had us around there for quite a while, so I think they really need to look into that and do something about it,” he argued.

“I was on the corner when it happened and I didn't want to believe it; it was devastating,” said Forte.

He continued: “I really wanted to be a part of the team that sent Usain off in style. But, unfortunately, it's just one of those things that happen. It's a part of the sport.”

The 110m hurdles champion, Omar McLeod, who was brought in to start the relay and actually got the better of Mike Rodgers on the opening leg, was distraught and in tears.

“I gave it my all and I really wanted especially Usain to leave golden. It was really hard,” said an emotional McLeod.

“I couldn't believe, I was shocked,” he added.

McLeod also bashed the long waiting period before the race. “It was ridiculous. We were there like four to five minutes. I think they had like two to three medal ceremonies before we went out. We tried our hardest to try and stay warm,” McLeod pointed out.

Meanwhile, Jamaica won bronze in the women's 4x100m relay in a season's best 42.19 seconds. Running without Elaine Thompson, Jamaica started with Jura Levy, followed by Natasha Morrison, Simone Facey, and Sashalee Forbes, and they were right there with winners, the USA before Tori Bowie sprinted away for victory in 41.82 seconds. Great Britain were second in 42.12 seconds, with Germany fourth in 42.36 seconds.

Team manager Ian Forbes told the Jamaica Observer that the coach thought that Elaine Thompson was “not in the kind of condition to run”, hence her omission.

Levy said Thompson's absence didn't really affect the team as they produced a season's best and was right there in the mix.

“I am pretty pleased because we went out there and gave our best. We got a medal, so I couldn't be more pleased,” said the diminutive runner.

Natasha Morrison, who ran a brilliant second leg, was still draped in the national flag when she spoke to the media. “I am very pleased. I just went out there with a positive mind just to stay focused and get the baton around safely to get team in the top three.”

Meanwhile, Kemoy Campbell finished 10th in the 5,000m in 13:39.74 minutes in a race in which British favourite Mo Farah was beaten in second by Ethiopia's Muktar Edris in 13:32.79 minutes. Farah, who also retires from competitive racing, just failed to complete the 5,000/10,000m golden double, and won silver in 13:33.22 minutes.

Campbell was more than satisfied with his historic display as he put Jamaica on the map in long distance running.

“I came here with the intention of making the final and I got 10th, so I can look at someone and say, 'hey, Jamaican distance runner got 10th,'” Campbell said.

“They probably won't believe it, but it's there for them to see, so OK I'm very happy with my performance, even though I wanted more,” he added.

“It feels good, but there is a lot of work to be done, and I will have to go back to the drawing board and come back stronger next time and hopefully be in medal contention,” said Campbell.

Jamaica's medal count now stands at four, inclusive of one gold and three bronze, with the country currently lying in 14th place in the medals standing. The USA continue to lead with 27 medals, including nine gold. Kenya are second with eight medals, including three gold, with Poland rounding out the top three with seven medals, including two gold.

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