Justin Gatlin, Christian Coleman finish ahead of eight-time Olympic champion
Justin Gatlin, left, of the U.S. crossed the finish line ahead of Jamaica’s Usain Bolt, right, in the men’s 100-meter final at the world championships in London on Saturday. Bolt hadn’t lost an Olympic or World championship race in a decade.Photo: Matthias Schrader/Associated Press
LONDON—Usain Bolt lost.
He hasn’t lost an Olympic or World championship race in a decade and he hasn’t lost a race, period, since 2013. But on Saturday, in what was supposed to be a curtain call for the greatest sprinting career ever, Bolt lost before a sellout crowd at the world championships in London.
The eight-time Olympic champion and fastest man of all time took the bronze medal in the men’s 100-meter final after a stunning upset in which Justin Gatlin and Christian Coleman, both of the U.S., took gold and silver.
While the awkward ending won’t tarnish the 30-year-old Jamaican runner’s legacy as the fastest and most victorious sprinter ever to take the track, it did deflate his sense of invincibility. For nearly a decade, Bolt has been track’s jovial, entertaining beacon, the reliable star in a sport that has so often been mired in controversy and stained by doping.
Even in defeat, however, Bolt remained upbeat, grinning, and humble. He lingered for nearly an hour in the stadium, taking a lap, signing autographs and giving thanks to fans who chanted “U-Sain-Bolt!” late into the night.
“On the day today, he was a better runner,” Bolt said of Gatlin. “I’ve proven to the world that I’m one of the best athletes and I don’t think tonight changes anything.”
The crowd of 55,000, many waving Jamaican flags and eager to celebrate the sprinter in his swan song, roared as the starting gun sounded and Bolt ambled to the middle of the pack. Coleman and Gatlin pushed the pace as Bolt scrambled to make up ground in the final meters. At the line, the finish was almost too close to call, and the stadium fell into a silence.
When Gatlin’s name flashed across the screen in first place, a sharp gasp went up.
Justin Gatlin celebrated with the American flag after his victory in the 100-meter men’s final at the world championships in London on Saturday. Photo: matthew childs/Reuters