By Marie van der Donk & Haileegziabher Adhanom
USA’s Justin Gatlin penned his own ending to what was supposed to be a fairy-tale night for Usain Bolt in the much anticipated 100m race at the World Championships in London.
The controversial American sprinter was booed before and after every race he ran in London and used it to fight the odds to a 9.92 victory in Saturday’s 100m race. Bolt, whose retirement had dominated each and every narrative ahead of the race had to settle for bronze as young Christian Coleman’s 9.94 completed the one-two American victory.
Usain Bolt’s time was his best of the season at 9.95 but it would do him no better than third, a result that brought the 60.000 large London crowd to a standstill, followed by more jeers for Gatlin,
For Gatlin, twice banned for doping, it was his first, defiant title since Helsinki 2005.
For Bolt, it was a concession that retirement was coming at an apt moment. It was also no reason not to end the night on a high as the Jamaican proceeded to run his traditional lap of honor and stop for selfies and celebration along the way.
“Of course, I was disappointed when I saw I lost. I came here and worked hard, and at the end, Gatlin and Coleman were better.
“I tightened up at the end and that is something you should never do. I didn’t execute when it mattered.
“He [Gatlin] is a great competitor. You have to be at your best against him. I really appreciate competing against him and he is a good person.”
Immediately after the race, Gatlin had bowed at the feet of Bolt acknowledging what he means to the sport, and the two embraced afterwards.
“It’s because I’m competing against Bolt. But in person Bolt and I are really good friends, and we know we will be okay at the end of the race. The people who love me are here cheering for me and cheering at home,” Gatlin said of the jeers.
Christian Coleman may use the hashtag #BeTheNext at his twitter because this was his first international competition, and already run second place. Coleman is still in college, so he will not retire for a while. Two American and one Jamaican flag will be shown at the podium for the medal ceremony at Sunday. Bolt does not have to hang his spikes already, his definitive race will be the 100 meters relay on August 12th.
Day 2 at a glance
Another spectacular event of the day was the women’s 10,000 meter race, which was won by world record holder and Olympic champion Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana with an astonishing solo performance and world leading 30:16.32 time, ahead of her compatriot and three-time world champion Tirunesh Dibaba and Kenyan Jebet Tirop 31:03.50 who recorded a new personal best.
Meanwhile Andrius Gudzius of Lithuania grabed the first gold medal for his country at this championships, in the men’s Discus Throw event, with his personal best 69.21 meters thrown. The result left Daniel Stahl of Sweden and Mason Finley of USA second and third with 69.19 and 68.03 respectively with the latter setting his personal best.
There were some other entertaining things for the crowed, happened outside the track and field, even if the spectacle inside the track and field was not enough, such as: one fan trying to run his own 100m fully undressed before caught and tackled by security
One of the day’s big winners are South Africa, as the nation’s long jumpers Luvo Manyonga and Ruswahi Samaai took the gold and bronze medals after jumps of 8.48 and 8.32 respectively. USA’s Jarrion Lawson finish second with just 4 centimeters short of the gold medal.
Sunday sees a shift in focus from the stadium to the streets for the men’s and women’s Marathon.