IAAF World Championships 2017

Bolt's long goodbye ends

Jamaican great Usain Bolt kneeling down before doing a lap of honour at the World Athletics Championships. He bows out as arguably the greatest track and field athlete of all time.
Jamaican great Usain Bolt kneeling down before doing a lap of honour at the World Athletics Championships. He bows out as arguably the greatest track and field athlete of all time.PHOTO: REUTERS

Eight-time Olympic champ will walk away for good as Felix, Semenya dominate last day

LONDON • Athletics greats Allyson Felix and Caster Semenya lit up the track to bring the curtain down on the World Championships in great style on Sunday. However, not for the first time, but certainly the last as an athlete, Usain Bolt stole the show.

The retiring superstar put on one last appearance, the 100m and 200m world record-holder accorded a lap of honour in front of the 60,000 spectators who stayed on after the finals were over.

To the tune of "Reggae Nights", the Jamaican raised his arms and applauded the crowd. He embraced his parents on the track and then finished with a final flourish of his trademark "lightning bolt" stance, not once but twice.

"I was saying goodbye to the fans and saying goodbye to my events also," said the eight-time Olympic champion, who paused at the start mark of both the 200m and 100m and crouched down.

"These are my two events that I have dominated for years. I was saying goodbye to everything. I almost cried. It was close but it didn't come."

Despite the emotions, the 30-year-old insisted that he will not make a competitive comeback.

"No, I've seen too many people come back and make things worse and shame themselves," he said. "I won't be one of those people who come back."

NO TURNING BACK

I've seen too many people come back and make things worse and shame themselves. I won't be one of those people who come back.

USAIN BOLT, 100m and 200m world record-holder, feels it's time to call it a day on the track and not return.

On the track, Felix ran a stunning leg in 48.7 seconds in the women's 4x400m relay to set the United States up for an easy victory and take her record world medals tally to 16, two ahead of retired Jamaican duo Merlene Ottey and Bolt.

The American quartet, also comprising Quanera Hayes, Shakima Wimbley and newly-crowned 400m champion Phyllis Francis, timed 3min 19.02sec.

"It does mean so much to me every time," Felix, 31, said when asked whether medals motivated her. "I love this sport. I'm grateful to run with these amazing girls. They work so hard and deserve all their success."

Britain (3:25.00) held off Poland (3:25.41) for silver.

Jamaica's sprinting woes continued as their foursome failed to make it around.

A day after Bolt sensationally pulled up in his 4x100m relay event, Anneisha McLaughlin-Whilby slowed down, clutching her leg 20m into her second leg and went to ground, ending Jamaica's reign as world champions.

South African star Semenya, who seems to block out all the debate about whether she should be running or not, added a third 800m crown to her tally.

She crossed the line in 1:55.16 to join Maria Mutola of Mozambique as the only women to have won the title three times.

Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi, who took silver behind Semenya at last year's Rio de Janeiro Olympics, was second again in 1:55.92. American Ajee Wilson claimed bronze in 1:56.65.

Semenya hinted that it would now be time to tackle the world record of 1:53.28 set by Jarmila Kratochvilova back in 1983.

"We need to clear 1:55 first and it will require a lot of hard training. I have Olympic, world and Commonwealth titles now so maybe it is time to target the world record," said the 26-year-old, whose last defeat in the event dates back to 2015.

"It's the next thing on the list. I know it will be difficult but I will have to attempt soon, maybe."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 15, 2017, with the headline 'Bolt's long goodbye ends'. Print Edition | Subscribe