Usain Bolt RETAINS 100m Title — Usain Bolt produced perhaps his greatest miracle of all as he put a troubled build-up behind him to beat two-time doper and clear favourite Justin Gatlin to retain his world 100m title yesterday.
The controversial Gatlin came into the final on a 28-race unbeaten run and apparently relishing his role as the sport’s bad guy.
But at the same Bird’s Nest stadium in Beijing where Bolt announced himself to the world with two Olympic golds and two world records in 2008, the Jamaican superstar came past a faltering Gatlin at the death to snatch victory by one hundredth of a second.
Bolt’s 9,79 seconds was more than two tenths off his world record, but this was a night for athletics to celebrate victories rather than times.
Canada’s Andre de Grasse and young American Trayvon Bromell were both awarded bronzes in 9,92secs.
Few noticed. This was once again the Bolt show, even as the world doubted him, even as his own struggles this summer continued in a semi-final when he stumbled and almost fell.
Gatlin had looked unbeatable in running 9,77secs in his own semi-final, but starting out in lane seven – US team-mate Tyson Gay between him and Bolt in five – he was the slowest of the main contenders from the block.
In every race this season his technique has been as certain as his reception has been chequered. Yet, with Bolt out faster and level with him at 50m, he tightened up horribly in the last 30 metres and staggered through the line as Bolt flew through.
The characterisation of this showdown as good versus evil was always overplayed. Neither is it redemption for a sport when the final contained three other men who have also returned from doping bans.
Yet it is another reminder, if any were needed, of both Bolt’s peerless competitive and athletic abilities and how much his sport owes him.
Reigning Olympic and world champion Bolt had struggled for form throughout 2015, with his best time of the year coming into the final a run of 9,87secs at London’s Anniversary Games in July.
“This means a lot because I’ve been struggling all season, it’s taken me a while to work things out,” Bolt said after the race.
“It’s been up and down but it’s OK now.” That still was not the best. I still stumbled,” Jamaica’s Bolt said in reference to clumsy footwork close to the blocks, after a similar error nearly derailed him in the semi- finals.
“My aim is to be the number one until I retire and therefore I am pushing myself and pushing myself. It’s all about running the race and getting it done. You can call that race rusty, I could have run faster.”
Tempered applause was heard at a packed Bird’s Nest stadium when Gatlin, in a red one-piece suit, was introduced to the crowd.
Bolt, wearing lycra shorts and singlet in the green, gold and black colours of Jamaica, was placed in lane five, Gatlin in lane seven of the nine-lane track.
The towering Jamaican, who celebrated his 29th birthday on Friday, was greeted with massive cheers at the stadium in which he took the world by storm at the 2008 Olympics with treble sprint gold, before repeating the feat in London in 2012.
Chants of “Usain Bolt” rang around along with acclaim for China’s Su Bingtian, Bolt raising his eyebrows at a classical piano rendition from a Chinese musician and checking out his beard as his face featured on the big screen.
In their first meeting over 100m since the last final in the Moscow worlds in 2013, when Gatlin also came second to Bolt, the American suffered from a slower start than the Jamaican.
Gatlin, a renowned fast starter who hasn’t lost over 100m or 200m since 2013 and has set personal bests for both distances — 9,74 and 19,57sec — this season, pegged equal with Bolt out of the blocks.
Sandwiched between Mike Rodgers in four and Tyson Gay in six, Bolt, head down for the first 40 metres, moved into his “drive phase”, unbuckling his long, powerful legs, but didn’t dare look across the field until a savage dip at the line saw him win a memorable race.
“I feel good,” said Gatlin. “On the last five metres I kind of stumbled a little bit. But I think it was a great race and I feel honoured to be out here.”
With allegations of widespread doping dominating the build-up to the worlds, the Jamaican’s showdown with the sport’s pantomime villain Gatlin was portrayed by some as a symbolic struggle of light versus dark.
Gatlin has served two doping bans and since his return to action in 2010 has won 2012 world 60m indoor gold, London Olympic 100m bronze and Moscow world silver, and is currently in the peak of his form at the age of 33, with what was an unbeaten streak of 28 races dating back to August 2013.
Although Bolt is the first to decry the idea that he is the “saviour” of track and field, global athletics chiefs will no doubt, at least in private, heave a huge sigh of relief at his win. — BBC Sport.