Usain Bolt’s final track appearance ended with pain and frustration on Saturday as he pulled up injured running the final leg of the World Championships 4×100 metres relay as Britain stunned the United States to win a shock gold medal.
Bolt, who had to settle for bronze in the individual 100 metres, had been hoping to sign off from the sport by leading Jamaica to a fifth successive world relay title but they were struggling in a distant third place when he collected the baton.
The legendary Jamaican sprinter was running the anchor leg for Jamaica in the 4 x 100-meter relay final at the 2017 World Championships in Athletics when he suffered a leg cramp, collapsed to the track and ultimately left in tears.
Though the end came suddenly and painfully, the world’s greatest athlete covering little more than 15 metres of his last major race before injury halted his progress; a victim, apparently, of severe cramp in his left hamstring.
It was no way for such an incredible career to conclude, Bolt reduced to an almost pathetic figure as his own momentum carried him half-way down the straight before he collapsed to the track.
Afterward, the Jamaican lamented the sad ending to his remarkable career but also thanked his fans. “Not the way that I wanted to end my championship,” Bolt said on Snapchat, according to NBC Sports. “I left everything out there on the track. I gave it my all, as always. “Sorry I didn’t get to say bye or anything, but I will be at the stadium tomorrow. I will come say goodbye.”
Although Great Britain won the gold medal, Bolt dominated post-race conversation. Bolt’s team claims event organizers’ decision to delay the start of the race caused Bolt’s left-hamstring injury. “It was 40 minutes and two medal presentations before our run,” Jamaica’s Yohann Blake said, per The BBC. “We keep warming up and waiting, then warming up and waiting. I think it got the better of us. “It hurts to see a true legend, a true champion go out there and struggle like that.”
For Bolt, of course, the legacy remains intact even if the leg is in bits. It remains an astonishing career. He retires with three world records, 13 individual global titles and 19 in all, even if those relay performances do represent a rather less palatable part of his career when they link him to the darker side of the sport.