IAAF World Championships 2017

Jamaica blast hosts for bolt fall

Jamaican star Usain Bolt is comforted by his teammates after suffering a hamstring injury during the 4x100m relay final - his swansong race.
Jamaican star Usain Bolt is comforted by his teammates after suffering a hamstring injury during the 4x100m relay final - his swansong race.PHOTO: REUTERS

Star sprinter pulls up in final race of his career after being kept in cold call room for a long period

LONDON • Jamaica's 4x100m relay team have blamed the organisers for causing the dramatic moment when Usain Bolt fell to the track in his final race - because they believe the "crazy" decision to keep the runners in a freezing call room for more than 40 minutes led to Bolt getting cold.

As Britain's quartet celebrated a shock gold medal at the athletics World Championships in London on Saturday, Jamaican Yohan Blake, who passed the baton to Bolt, said he was furious at what happened.

"They were holding us too long in the call room," he said. "Usain was really cold. In fact Usain said to me, 'Yohan, I think this is crazy. Forty minutes and two medal presentations before our run.'

"We keep warming up and waiting, then warming up and waiting. Then we saw a true legend, a true champion go out there and struggling like that."

Bolt, who will turn 31 next Monday, picked up the baton on the final leg with Jamaica in third place. But he barely made it halfway down the track before he began hopping in agony and then collapsing to the floor with cramp in his left hamstring.

Omar McLeod, who led off the Jamaican team, said: "It's heart-wrenching, I gave it my all and I really wanted Usain to leave golden - even if it was just a medal. It was really heart-wrenching. I couldn't believe it, I'm in shock, utter disbelief.

"It was ridiculous. 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."

Accusations were made against the organisers of the track and field World Championships at the London Olympic Stadium yesterday, after Usain Bolt's extraordinary sprinting career ended in sad drama. The 30-year-old Jamaican, who was running the final
Sad end to Usain Bolt's career: Accusations were made against the organisers of the track and field World Championships at the London Olympic Stadium yesterday, after Usain Bolt's extraordinary sprinting career ended in sad drama. The 30-year-old Jamaican, who was running the final leg of the 4x100m relay, tumbled with a cramp in his left hamstring moments after receiving the baton. He eventually got up and limped to the finish line, to the cheers of the crowd. His teammates - as well as his American arch-rival Justin Gatlin - have blamed the event organisers for having the sprinters wait in the cold, air-conditioned call room for nearly 40 minutes before starting the relay, so as to fit the race into the television scheduling. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

His team-mate Julian Forte was also shocked.

"I felt like it happened to me, I was on the corner at the time when it happened, it's devastating," he said.

Britain's quartet set a national record of 37.47sec to take gold, with the United States second in 37.52sec and Japan third in 38.04sec.

LEFT IN THE COLD

They were holding us too long in the call room. Usain was really cold. In fact Usain said to me, 'Yohan, I think this is crazy. Forty minutes and two medal presentations before our run.

YOHAN BLAKE, Jamaican 4x100m relay member, revealing that teammate Usain Bolt was not warmed up ahead of the race.

AIRING PROBLEM

I know it's TV magic, and everybody has to be prepared on time to make everything happen for the viewers at home.

JUSTIN GATLIN, the reigning 100m champion from America, laying the blame at the television scheduling for the event.

Justin Gatlin agreed with the complaints of the Jamaican relay team members. The American, who beat Bolt to gold in the 100m, laid the blame at the television scheduling for the event.

"I know it's TV magic, and everybody has to be prepared on time to make everything happen for the viewers at home. (But) I personally think that we were held in the stadium a little too long without our clothes on, and there was a little draught in there. I lost all my sweat and body heat," he said.

When asked if he thought that contributed to Bolt's injury, the 35-year-old, who ran the second leg for the United States, said: "I believe so. Knowing how Usain performs, he's always ready, he's always making sure he's not injured and it's very rare to see Usain injured when he comes to performances."

He later hailed Bolt, who bows out of competition with a haul of eight Olympic golds and 14 world medals - including 11 golds, as an "amazing showman".

"Usain Bolt is a great athlete," said Gatlin. "You can't let this championships define what he's done in the past."

THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 14, 2017, with the headline 'Jamaica blast hosts for bolt fall'. Print Edition | Subscribe