Usain Bolt’s farewell party on Saturday was spoiled by a pair of Americans.
The Jamaican great finished third in his final 100-meter race, with Justin Gatlin and Christian Coleman taking gold and silver Saturday at the world championships.
In a tight finish, Bolt was punished for his slow start and Gatlin fought back to nip everyone at the line in 9.92 seconds. Coleman took silver in 9.94 seconds while Bolt got bronze in 9.95.
Because of his doping past, Gatlin was booed in London before and after the race.
It was an amazing turnaround for Gatlin, who was the Olympic champion in 2004 before Bolt emerged and won an unprecedented three straight 100-meter titles at the Olympics. Thirteen years later, Gatlin bounced back to win in the Jamaican’s last individual race.
In between, Gatlin’s career was stopped twice for doping suspensions. Yet fighting controversy all the way since, he got perhaps his greatest gold at 35.
And Gatlin knew what Bolt meant to the sport, bowing in admiration in front of him, even after beating him.
Bolt didn’t smile any less afterward.
“It is just one of those things,” Bolt said, showing his carefree demeanour even in defeat. “It has been brilliant.”
Bolt was again slow out of the blocks in the final and came back strong, but he ended up short. When he ran out of steam, Gatlin gathered more.
The Jamaican superstar was competing in his last solo race in a championships before retiring.
Two-time drug cheat Gatlin was booed by many in the crowd when it was announced he had clinched the title.
Despite not going according to the script, fans packing the Olympic stadium were treated to a lap of honour as Bolt thanked the crowd and struck his iconic pose.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t end it on a winning note, but I want to thank you for your support,” said the sprinter.
Gatlin, who served a doping ban between 2006 and 2010, was embraced by Bolt after he crossed the line.
He told the BBC that Bolt told him he had worked hard for his win and didn’t deserve the boos.
Gatlin was the last man to have beaten Bolt over 100m – by just a hundredth of a second in Rome in 2013 – and has now beaten his nemesis again after years of trying.
*Culled from AP.