By Spencer Darlington
Reporting from the IAAF World Athletics Championships in London
Legendary Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt was most gracious in defeat after ending his individual career on the global stage with a bronze medal in the men’s 100m final on Saturday’s second day of competition at the 16th IAAF World Athletics Championships at the London Stadium.
The capacity crowd of more than 60,000 was stunned into disbelief when Bolt who has dominated the global stage since 2008, clocked a season-best equaling 9.95 seconds to finish a close-up third in the blue ribband event behind the American pair of Justin Gatlin 9.92 seconds and Christian Coleman 9.94.
The venue was brought to a total standstill for the start as Bolt, an 11-time World Championship gold medallist, lined up in lane 4 for what was expected to be his fourth gold medal in this event at the World Championships, his storybook moment and the high point of the championships.
Despite the loss which was the first for Bolt in an individual final on the global stage since the 2007 World Championships in Osaka, Japan, dozens of fans remained inside the stadium well beyond an hour after the final had been run, still shouting the name of the great athlete.
"It wasn't the perfect race, but I did my best and that's what matters. I think I was in good shape to win it, but my start and the first 30m is always important, especially when I'm not in the best shape, so for me, it's one of those things. I did my best," said Bolt.
"I have proven to the world that I am one of the greatest athletes and tonight (Saturday) will not change anything. I have always done my best and tried to keep the sport in a positive light," he added.
He also congratulated Gatlin on his victory, the second World Championship 100m gold for the veteran American, following his success at the 2005 edition in Helsinki, Finland.
"I told him 'congrats, well done'," Bolt revealed of his post-race embrace with Gatlin. "He deserved it. He worked hard, he came out here and he was ready, so he did well. He has done his time throughout the years. I just look at him as another competitor and today, he was the better man,” said Bolt.
Bolt has ruled out the possibility of him reversing his decision to retire from the sports at the end of the ongoing championships.
He will sign out his campaign when he represents Jamaica in the men’s 4x100m relay which will bring the curtain down on the championships on Sunday, August 13.