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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 June 2018

Usain Bolt: A true champion doesn't always have to win gold

Bolt's career wasn't just out of the ordinary, it was extraordinary

A true champion does not always have to wear a gold medal around his neck. Lucy Nicholson / REUTERS
A true champion does not always have to wear a gold medal around his neck. Lucy Nicholson / REUTERS

In the end, there was to be no dream finale to Usain Bolt’s individual sprint career. Instead, there was the bang of the starter’s gun at the Olympic Stadium in London on Saturday night and the collective whimper of the capacity crowd sighing in disappointment as Bolt was beaten across the line by Justin Gatlin and Christian Coleman in the Jamaican’s farewell 100m final at the World Championships. “I lost the race to a great competitor, I came third to a young kid coming up,” Bolt said afterwards, “I gave my all.”

Bolt’s season has been constructed more around hope than expectation, in marked contrast to his years of delivering box-office moments even when the weight of the world was upon him. In the past few months, the Jamaican has attempted to keep at bay the combined forces of injuries, the march of time and grieving for his close friend, Germaine Mason, a British high jumper who died in a motorcycle accident in April.

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Read more:

Usain Bolt: "It doesn't change anything. I lost the race to a great competitor"

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But you could say that there is greater beauty in Bolt winning bronze in London, as it reminds us that he is human after all. If his career has embodied the Olympic motto of faster, higher, stronger - as he blazed his way to impossibly quick world records and multiple gold medals - his performance on Saturday confirmed two things: that his peak years were not just out of the ordinary, they were extraordinary and that a true champion does not always have to wear a gold medal around his neck. As gracious in defeat as he was glorious in his golden years, Bolt gets to say goodbye all over again next Saturday in the sprint relay. Maybe there will be a winning finale after all.

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Also read:

Tributes for Usain Bolt as tetchy Justin Gatlin defends 100m win at worlds

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