Athletics

Gatlin beats Bolt to claim world 100m title

Justin Gatlin hails Usain Bolt after winning the men's 100 metres final.
Justin Gatlin hails Usain Bolt after winning the men's 100 metres final. Reuters/Phil Noble

It didn’t end with a golden flourish but rather karmic revenge on the unsporting thousands who had booed him. Justin Gatlin, the reformed doper, upstaged Usain Bolt’s farewell race by winning the men’s 100m final in 9.92 seconds.

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Gatlin’s fellow American, Christian Coleman, was second and Bolt took an unusual colour for him – bronze - in 9.95 seconds.

Gatlin has endured a torrid championships from the spectators. The 35-year-old was jeered as his name was announced before the heats on the opening day of competition on Friday.

He suffered the same fate when his name was called out before and after  Saturday’s semi-finals and there were also jeers before the final itself.

Astonishment ran through the Queen Elizabeth Stadium when Gatlin crossed the finishing line ahead of Bolt.

"I tuned out the boos through the rounds and stayed the course," said Gatlin after his victory. "I did what I had to do. The people who love me are here cheering for me and cheering at home.

"It is Bolt's last race. I have had many victories and many defeats down the years. It is an amazing occasion. We are rivals on the track but afterwards we joke and have a good time."

Bolt got off to another horrendous start in the final and he was soon playing catch-up with Coleman. There was the habitual turbo charged second half from the Jamaican. But on his final fling, it failed to reap the usual dividends.

Gatlin emitted a primal roar at the end of the race and held his pointed finger to his lips. Indeed the stadium was quiet. Before the ripple of jeers.

Bolt embraced his conqueror and went on his farewell lap of honour.

"The first thing Usain did was congratulate me and say that I didn't deserve the boos. He is an inspiration," Gatlin said.

The fans chanted Bolt’s name but this was not the habitual joyous jaunt. It was the end of an aura.

The medal tally will show 11 world championship golds, one bronze and one silver from the biennial events since Osaka in 2007. There’s the no small matter of eight Olympic golds dating back to Beijing in 2008. And the accolade of being the only man to win three consecutive Olympic golds in the 100 and 200m.

“I’m definitely disappointed that I didn’t win. No-one’s going to be happy that they didn’t win," said the 30-year-old. "I’m disappointed about that but the good thing is that I went out there and gave it my all. I’m happy about that.”

 

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