London, August 13 (IANS): The World Athletics Championships just can’t stop popping up surprises even as Jamaican great Usain Bolt and local hero Mohamed Farah bid farewell to their respective careers amid tears and defeat.
In the last race of his career, Bolt limped off the track while hosts Britain took the stunning 4x100m victory to the ecstasy of the capacity London Stadium spectators here on Saturday evening, reports Xinhua news agency.
Bolt had only taken a few strides when he appeared to suffer an injury to his left leg around 30 metres into the anchor leg. He dropped the baton before falling face down to the track in pain.
The 11-time world champion and eight-time Olympic titlist stayed down for a couple of minutes and refused the offer of a wheelchair from medics before standing up and walking to the finish line.
For all his stellar achievements, it book-ended a professional life in the fast lane that started in similar fashion, when he limped across the line last in the 200m final on his World Championships debut as an injury-prone 18-year-old in Helsinki back in 2005.
“Everybody was jelly. Everybody was pumped. It just happened (Usain’s injury). Usain Bolt’s name will always live on,” Jamaica’s first leg runner Omar McLeod said.
Bolt had anchored Jamaica to victory in each of the previous six global championship 4x100m finals, stretching back to the 2009 World Championships with an average winning margin of 0.49.
This time, with 110m hurdles champion Omar McLeod on the lead off leg, Julian Forte on leg two and 2011 world 100m champion Blake on three, they were far from the polished model that scorched to the 2012 Olympic title in a world record time of 36.84 seconds.
Britain won the gold in 37.47 seconds, the US took silver in 37.52 and Japan was third in 38.04. China, the silver medallist two years ago, finished fourth in 38.34 with second-leg runner Xie Zhenye just coming back from injury.
The British team of Chijindu Ujah, Adam Gemili, Danny Talbot and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake broke the European record — that had stood since 1999 — by 0.26 seconds. That record was established by the British team of Jason Gardener, Darren Campbell, Marlon Devonish and Dwain Chambers as silver medal winners behind the USA at the 1999 IAAF World Championships in Seville, Spain.
British anchor runner Michell-Blake dropped to the ground in blissful disbelief as his team beat the American squad consisting of newly crowned 100m world champion Justin Gatlin and runner-up Christian Coleman.
It brought back memories of the Athens Olympics in 2004, when Mark Lewis-Francis held off Maurice Greene to claim an unlikely Olympic victory over the Americans. The only other global senior championship success for Britain in the men’s 4x100m relay was at the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm.
It was a roller-coaster night for the celebrating home fans when a couple of hours ago their emotion could only be described as disappointed when Farah failed in his quest for a fourth 5,000m world title in his farewell race just like Bolt.