Britain sprint to relay gold, but it’s painful end for Bolt

From left to right, British quartet Daniel Talbot, Adam Gemili, Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake and Chijindu Ujah celebrate their thrilling 4x100m relay success. Picture: Getty Images
From left to right, British quartet Daniel Talbot, Adam Gemili, Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake and Chijindu Ujah celebrate their thrilling 4x100m relay success. Picture: Getty Images
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These world championships continue to defy the script in the most extraordinary and mind-boggling ways.

Happy endings can be satisfying but all lovers of a good drama appreciate a surprising twist and there have been no shortage of those over the past nine days and nights.

Last night had already seen Mo Farah finally beaten in his final major track race and then came the real humdinger as Usain Bolt, dethroned by arch-villain Justin Gatlin the previous Saturday, ended his incomparable career by pulling up on the anchor leg of the 4x100m relay.

Minutes later he was helped up and walked over the finish line for the final time.

Oh, and by the way, Great Britain won the gold medal, beating the Americans into silver.

It was a sad yet thrilling, mind scrambling end to an emotion charged evening in the London Stadium on the penultimate evening of an event which has had its problems but hasn’t lacked for decent storylines. For Bolt it was an even more disappointing and, quite literally painful, final act in a Jamaica vest.

The 30-year-old megastar, pictured right, found himself in the unusual position of taking the baton at the top of the home stretch with more than even he could pull off, as the British and Americans streaked off into the distance.

In the effort to make up ground Bolt’s hamstring appeared to go. Rather than the silence then jeers that followed Justin Gatlin’s win seven nights’ previous, however, the enraptured crowd exploded to celebrate a stunning British gold before processing what had happened to the headline act.

CJ Ujah got the Brits off to a flying start, before Adam Gemili held his own against Gatlin. Daniel Talbot ran a sensational bend to hand over to Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake in the lead and the 23-year-old held off individual silver medallist Christian Coleman for a stunning win, smashing the British record with a time of 37.47, the third-fastest time in history. Japan got the bronze.

The drama followed a superb silver medal for the women’s 4x100m team of Asha Philp, Desiree Henry, Dina Asher-Smith and Daryll Neita, again behind the USA, with a time of 42.12 ahead of Jamaica.

Earlier, Great Britain had finished second to the USA in both men’s and women’s 4x100m semi-finals, both producing smooth, encouraging displays. The women, anchored home in the heat by Asher-Smith just over 12 hours after her excellent fourth in the women’s 200m final the previous evening, clocked a season’s best of 41.93.

The men were even better, leading the Americans on the second and third changes before Mitchell-Blake eased down on the anchor leg, allowing Coleman to take the win. Encouragingly, the time of 37.76 was just three hundredths of a second off the British record and the second fastest ever by a GB quartet.

With one more day of action left, Britain now have four medals at these championships – the 4x100m relay successes adding to Farah’s 10,000m gold and 5,000m silver.