Bolt laps up victory, farewell

Usain Bolt salutes the crowd after winning the 100m "Salute to a Legend" race at the National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica. The eight-time Olympic gold medallist will retire in August after competing in his last meet, the World Championships in Londo
Usain Bolt salutes the crowd after winning the 100m "Salute to a Legend" race at the National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica. The eight-time Olympic gold medallist will retire in August after competing in his last meet, the World Championships in London, where he plans to run the 100m and 4x100m but not the 200m.PHOTO: REUTERS

Sprinter says he was anxious before winning final race at home as 30,000 fans honour him

KINGSTON (Jamaica) • Usain Bolt partied with his devoted fans in an emotional farewell at the National Stadium on Saturday as the world's fastest man ran his final race on Jamaican soil.

He went out in a blaze of glory as he won the 100m "Salute to a Legend" race in front of a raucous crowd of 30,000 on the same track where he launched his international career at the world junior meet in 2002.

The 30-year-old cruised to victory in a time of 10.03 seconds, well below his world record time (9.58sec) but good enough to beat a solid field.

"I don't think I have ever been that nervous to run the 100m," said the eight-time Olympic gold medallist, who is retiring in August after the World Championships. "Just the atmosphere and the people. The support they came out and gave me, it was nerve-racking."

After the race, he took a victory lap, then returned to the track and the No. 5 lane where he kissed the finish line before flashing his signature lightning-bolt pose for the final time at home.

"There are no words," he said. "From world juniors to now, I have always been getting great support from Jamaica.

GRATEFUL FOR THE SUPPORT

I don't think I have ever been that nervous to run the 100m... There are no words. From world juniors to now, I have always been getting great support from Jamaica.

USAIN BOLT, thanking his home supporters after his last race on his home track.

"I never thought I would ever reach this height in track and field. My only aim was to be a 200m Olympic champion. I have done all I have done. Being a legend now is something big."

He ran in front of a sea of green-and-yellow-clad Jamaican fans who showed their pride by dancing, waving flags and blowing vuvuzela horns while fireworks lit the sky.

Bolt said the five-hour outpouring of love received was larger and louder than he anticipated.

"To see everybody turn out shows that what I have done for the sport is a big deal to them," he said.

The 11-time world champion was honoured during a 20-minute ceremony on the field which was attended by his coach Glen Mills and Sebastian Coe, president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

Coe thanked Bolt, saying: "Our words are modest but our thanks are mountainous. His contribution has been mammoth. A figure to all of us in his sport and I wish him the best of luck."

Bolt plans to run the century sprint at the World Championships in London but believes he still has a lot of work to do to get ready.

"I think that was possibly one of my worst races. My execution was bad and my start was poor," he said of his first 100m race of the year, where he led from the 50m mark.

"I didn't expect anything spectacular. I just wanted to come out here and put on a show for the crowd."

Fellow Jamaicans Jevaughn Minzie (10.15sec) and Nickel Ashmeade (10.18sec) were second and third respectively. The duo were part of the 4x100m squad that won gold with Bolt at last year's Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

The performance of the night probably came from the South African Wayde van Niekerk.

His time of 19.84 sec in the 200m was not only the fastest of the year but a reminder, perhaps, of why Bolt intends to attempt only the 100m and 4x100m at his swansong. But Saturday night, like so many others on the track in the past decade, belonged to Bolt.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 12, 2017, with the headline 'Bolt laps up victory, farewell'. Print Edition | Subscribe