It was a tight race, but Usain Bolt still managed to defeat Justin Gatlin at the death to win the men’s 100m gold with 9.97seconds Sunday at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing.
Bolt, who holds the world record at 9.58 seconds was a major doubt following injury and subsequent loss of form. He almost didn’t made the final as he stumbled in the semi-finals but he was able to make up for the loss of pace despite posting a semi-finals time of 9.96 seconds.
And with most athletics followers grudgingly expecting USA’s Justin Gatlin to win but by the time the dust settled, it was Bolt who breasted the tape with 9.79 seconds a season’s best for the Jamaican, who is a poster boy for a sport tainted with doping allegations. Gatlin, battling to convince the athletics family that his doping past has nothing to do with the present, finished at 9.80 seconds. Trayvon Bromell of the USA clocked 9.92 seconds to occupy the last podium position.
“I came out here relaxed, no stress and brought it home,” Bolt said. “My aim is to be the number one until I retire, and therefore I am pushing myself and pushing myself. It is all about running the race and getting it done. You can call that race rusty. I could have run faster.”
Gatlin, the 2005 world 100m champion, finished in 9.80, well off his season’s best of 9.74 recorded in May. With 20 meters to go, it appeared he might be able to out-sprint Bolt but Gatlin lost his rhythm with about five paces remaining and was off balance as he headed for the finish.
“I stumbled a little bit and it cost me momentum,” Gatlin said. “I think it was a great race, and I feel honored to be out here.
“Of course everybody wants to come out here and win, but I came out here, got nipped at the line by the great Usain,” he added. “Hopefully I have more great races to come.”
Bolt nearly did not make the final at all. Running in the first of the three semifinals, he got off to a quick start by his standards and then scuffed a toe on the track and stumbled. At 50 meters, he was well behind the leaders but fought his way back.
He managed to cross just ahead of De Grasse, with both finishing in 9.96 seconds. But while De Grasse looked delighted, Bolt was shaking his head and pursing his lips as he slowed down.