x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Usain Bolt just cannot put a foot wrong at World Championships

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce helps Jamaica to sprint sweep, while Justin Gatlin is full of praise but heartbreak for British men's team after disqualification.

Jamaica's Usain Bolt anchors his team to gold in the men's 4x100m relay.
Jamaica's Usain Bolt anchors his team to gold in the men's 4x100m relay.

MOSCOW // Usain Bolt is perfect again. With three gold medals, the Jamaican great became the most successful athlete in the 30-year history of the World Athletics Championships.

The 4x100-metre relay gold on Sunday erased the memories of the 100m title he missed out on in South Korea two years ago because of a false start.

Combined with an identical 100-200-relay triple from teammate Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Bolt was instrumental in giving Jamaica the first sweep of the six sprint events in competition history.

He did it in trademark fashion.

Bolt was still trailing American Justin Gatlin when both sprinters got the baton on the anchor leg of the relay, but a botched US handover and Bolt's superior speed were enough to carry him, and Jamaica, to victory.

He gritted his teeth, dipped forward at the line and then grinned with relief.

"I wasn't really worried about Justin. I knew if he got the baton in front of me, I could catch him," Bolt said. "So it was just going out there to run as fast as possible."

When he does exactly that, nobody has stopped him when it mattered - for the past half decade and counting.

"It's not just about the talent," said Gatlin, who finished second to Bolt in the 100m last week.

"It's about rising to the occasion. He understands what that means."

Bolt had already won the 100 and 200m. It was his second such sprint triple at the World Championships, matching the two he has achieved at the Olympics.

With his victory, Bolt moved to the top of the all-time World Championships medals table with eight gold and two silver, edging Carl Lewis, who has eight gold, one silver and one bronze. Once again Luzhniki Stadium and its 40,000 fans turned into a Bolt party.

With palpable relief after a week of an all-business demeanour during his earlier races, Bolt finally let go. His arms across his chest, he kicked his legs as he went down lower and lower to imitate a traditional eastern European Cossack dance to the delight of the crowd.

"A lot of energy here today," Bolt said.

He threw he shoes into the stands as fans scrambled to catch the souvenirs and struck his "Lightning Bolt" pose again, knowing he finally could escape the stress as Bob Marley's Three Little Birds blared.

Great Britain's 4x100m relay team were left heartbroken as the latest in a long line of baton blunders saw them stripped of bronze.

The British quartet of Adam Gemili, Harry Aikines-Aryeetey, James Ellington and Dwain Chambers performed admirably at the Luzhniki Stadium, clocking a season-best 37.80 seconds.

However, it proved irrelevant as the second changeover from Aikines-Aryeetey to Ellington took place out of the designated box and the result was reversed.

"It's heart-breaking," Aikines-Aryeetey said. "You're going out there to get your medal and then someone stands in front of you and says, 'Sorry to be the bearer of bad news'.

"We only found out literally when we were walking out for the medal presentation. It's just like that. It is heart-breaking, you know?"

Twenty minutes earlier, Fraser-Pryce became the first woman in World Championship history to sweep the sprint events, anchoring Jamaica to gold in the 4x100m relay. Unlike Bolt, the diminutive Fraser-Pryce got the baton with a big lead. With her pink hair extensions swaying in the air behind her, she kept on building her advantage to cross in a championship record of 41.29.

The United States took silver and Great Britain bronze after France were disqualified.

The US failed to lead the gold-medal standings for the first time since the inaugural World Championships in Helsinki 30 years ago.

Instead, Russia topped the table with seven golds, while the Americans and Jamaicans won six. In the overall standings, the US team dominated with 25 medals, holding a wide lead over the host nation's 17.

With a middle-distance double on Sunday, Kenya secured African domination over neighbours and rival Ethiopia.

Asbel Kiprop successfully defended his 1,500m title with a devastating kick on the final straight.

Matthew Centrowitz of the US took silver in the hectic sprint finish, just ahead of Johan Cronje of South Africa. The string of upsets continued in the men's triple jump, where Olympic and defending champion Christian Taylor of the US was fourth. Teddy Tamgho of France edged Pedro Pichardo of Cuba for gold.

Yet as ever, the stage and large crowd mostly belonged to Bolt, perhaps the world's most dynamic sports figure.

As he had in London, he once again delivered the goods.

"I am very satisfied," Bolt said.


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