It is not every day when the sports world watches an athlete who has broken multiple records, won plenty of medals and made himself the darling of the crowd finally hangs up his sports gear and retires. Thus track fans and fellow sportsmen were eager to see the last hurrah of World Record holder and repeat Olympian Usain Bolt of Jamaica at the IAAF World Championships in London last Saturday. It would have served as an appropriate sendoff for the fastest man in the world, especially if he wins an individual event one last time. Hopes were dashed however with his upset loss to American rival Justin Gatlin.

Foiled finale

Much was the shock of his fans and other witnesses to his final official competitive participation in track and field at the IAAF World Championships, Jamaican speedster Usain Bolt came in at an only third place in the 100-meter dash final on August 5. He was outrun by US sprinters Justin Gatlin, the current World Champion, and his compatriot Christian Coleman who finished second. The final time records came as follows: 9.92 seconds, 9.94 seconds and 9.95 seconds. Despite this subpar finish, however, Bolt continues to retain his latest World Record set for the 100-meter dash.

While Bolt’s non-first place win in his last single 100 meters did not diminish his image as the hero of the hour, it did reinforce the reputation of winner Gatlin as the villain of the Jamaican’s story.

The moment he entered the London Olympic Stadium, Justin Gatlin was barraged by boos from fans that played up the fact that he has been suspended multiple times for doping in past years. The American, who has been pitted against Usain Bolt many times before, still graciously counted himself as one of those awed by the Jamaican runner’s legend.

When the race was finished, he even bowed before Bolt.

Savior of sports

Ever since his first Olympic appearance at in Beijing back in 2008, and even before that, Usain Bolt has built a contemporary sporting legend with his insanely fast speed. He was also considered to be a “savior” of running sports after his victories over Justin Gatlin in the height of his and many others’ doping allegations.

As the decade turned and he got older and slower, the Jamaican hometown hero found himself being counted among definitive athletes for his sport, like boxing’s Muhammad Ali and soccer’s Pele.

After the 100 meters, Bolt is still due for one more event at the IAAF World Championships, the 4x100 meter relay to be run this Thursday on August 12. But one that is done the sporting world will see a true end to an era where athletics will never be quite the same again.