Jamaican teammates blame worlds organizers for Bolt's collapse

AFP
Usain Bolt's dramatic and inglorious end to his top-level career was the fault of world championship organizers, his teammates said, echoing claims by American rival Justin Gatlin.
AFP
Imaginechina

Jamaica's Usain Bolt reacts after sustaining an injury during the 4x100 relay final at the world championships in London on August 12, 2017.

Usain Bolt's dramatic and inglorious end to his top-level career was the fault of world championship organizers, his furious teammates claimed.

The 30-year-old 100 meters and 200 world record-holder collapsed on the London Stadium track whilst anchoring Jamaica in the final of the 4x100 on Saturday as cramp gripped his leg.

Bolt lay prone on the track but waved away the offer of a wheelchair and eventually, aided by his three teammates — Omar McLeod, Julian Forte and Yohan Blake — limped across the line before making a hasty exit — not the way the man who had won triple Olympic gold at the same stadium in 2012 would have wished his competitive career in championships to finish.

But his teammates complained that his problem was caused by organizers keeping the relay teams waiting in the cold before their race as several medal ceremonies were held.

"I think they were holding us too long in the call room. The walk was too long. Usain was really cold. In fact Usain said to me, 'Yohan, I think this is crazy. 40 minutes and two medal presentations before our run'," said Blake, who branded the wait as "crazy".

"We kept warming up and waiting, then warming up and waiting," added the 2011 100 world champion, who also won Olympic relay gold in 2012 and 2016 with Bolt.

"I think it got the better of us. We were over warm.

"To see a true legend, a true champion go out there and struggling like that.

"The race was 10 minutes late and we were kept 40 minutes."

Bolt may not have led Jamaica to a glorious finale anyway, though, as he took the baton well behind eventual winners Great Britain and the United States.

But Jamaica's 110 hurdles world champion McLeod — who ran the first leg — likewise pointed the finger at organizers for denying his country's greatest star a more fitting swansong.

"It's heart wrenching," said McLeod, who is also the Olympic champion.

"It was ridiculous man, we were there around 45 minutes waiting outside, I think they had three medal ceremonies before we went out so we were really trying our hardest to stay warm and keep upbeat.

"But it was ridiculous. We waited a really long time. I drank like two bottles of water."

Their criticism echoed that of Justin Gatlin, who led an American 1-2 alongside teammate Christian Coleman to deny Bolt a farewell gold in the individual 100.

"I think it was the elements. I am sorry he got this injury. He is still the best in the world," said Gatlin.

"It was a recipe. I don't want to say this, I understand we need to be ready early, but I think we took our clothes off a little too early.

"It's a little chilly in here so I think that's where the cramp came from. That's what he suffered with. He was running out there cold."

"This is farewell time, I am sentimental about it already now. In the warm-up area, we give ourselves respect and greeted each other. Usain Bolt is a great athlete."

Kevin Jones, the Jamaican team doctor, said Bolt had suffered cramp in his left hamstring.

Typically, Bolt's only thoughts were with the teammates he felt he had let down.

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Jamaican team members (from left), Julian Forte, Yohan Blake, Usain Bolt and Omar McLeod react after Bolt falls during the 4x100-meter relay at the IAAF world championships in London on August 12, 2017.

Matchless career

The official result recorded that the Jamaicans did not finish but Bolt had been absolutely determined to ensure he completed the last race after a matchless career in which he won 19 major championship gold medals, Reuters reported.

"He kept apologizing to us but we told him there was no need to apologize," Forte said. "Injuries are part of the sport."

McLeod added: "It just happened — Usain Bolt's name will always live on."

Jamaican team manager Ian Forbes praised Bolt for "going out there and giving his all" and added that the squad were "very saddened".

"The diagnostic work will be done shortly to determine how serious it is. He was able to walk to the team bus so hopefully that signals it's not as serious as it possibly could be," Forbes said.

With the 56,000-strong crowd going wild about the British victory, there was still time for them to hail the sport's favorite performer, who waved to them a mite forlornly while hobbling away from the track.

Five years ago, almost to the very night, British distance running hero Mo Farah had broken into Bolt's lightning bolt pose in this same stadium and the Jamaican had reciprocated with the Briton's trademark "Mobot" to mark their joyous supremacy at the London Olympics.

Yet in the same stadium on Saturday, they attempted in vain to reprise that triumphant night, Farah ending up with silver in his final track race, over 5,000 meters, and Bolt suffering his anti-climactic farewell.

Their leaving of the track scene leaves a void in the sport that does not look like being filled any time soon.

But despite Bolt's relatively unsuccessful championships — in which he will exit with just a single bronze medal — the Jamaican will still be accorded a final lap of honor in a tribute ceremony before the curtain comes down on the world championships later on Sunday.


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