Jamaican superstar Usain Bolt had aimed to end his extraordinary sprint career with one last title in the relay race but instead failed to finish with a cramp.
London’s Olympic Stadium was primed for one final Usain Bolt show but instead, the 56,000 spectators were left to watch in utter astonishment as the greatest sprinter ever limped off the track after failing to finish.
As a consolation, they got to cheer their British race winners.
Bolt entered the track one last time to cheers and “Usain Bolt” chants, went through his usual antics before getting ready for the 4×100-metre anchor leg for Jamaica who had won every big relay since 2009.
He was left with an uphill task as he got the baton from Yohan Blake trailing the Brits and Americans, started to sprint hard but after just a few steps grimaced, pulled up and went down in pain, clutching his left thigh.
Instead of getting a 12th gold or a minor medal for 15 overall at the worlds, he injured himself for the first time in a big race.
Team doctor Kevin Jones diagnosed a hamstring cramp but said: “a lot of pain is from disappointment from losing the race.”
Bolt’s only other hiccup had been a false-start disqualification in the 100m final at the 2011 worlds.
Over the past nine years, the almost 31-year-old redefined the sprint with astonishing world records and a title collection of 11 worlds golds and eight Olympic titles – named among the likes of boxer Muhammad Ali in the pantheon of sports as he thrilled fans from around the world.
Bolt had originally planned to retire after the Rio Olympics last year where he got another title treble but eventually decided on the last appearance in London with its large Jamaican community and where he also got a treble, at the 2012 Olympics.
But while he had managed to prevail in the past worlds and Olympics somewhat against the odds, nowhere near as sharp and fast as between 2008 and 2013, time now ran out on him and his body.
Bolt had to settle for bronze in the 100m – and Saturday then provided the end no one wanted to see, himself included.
“He kept apologising to us but we told him there was no need to apologise – injuries are part of the sport,” team-mate Julian Forte told the championship radio.
It was swiftly suggested that Bolt should have better retired after Rio, but runners also said that his reputation will not be dented by the end that wasn’t in the script.
“Usain Bolt’s name will always live on,” insisted relay team-member Omar McLeod.