What’s the story?
Since the world witnessed the shocking moment of Usain Bolt going down and lying prostrate on the ground, unable to finish the Men’s 4x100m relay race at the IAAF World Championships 2017 in London on Saturday, the clamours have grown louder for the legend to reverse his decision on retirement.
Now the newly-crowned 100m world champion Justin Gatlin too has joined them. The American, one of Bolt’s greatest rivals, is convinced that the legendary Jamaican will not be satisfied in bowing out with such a blemish on his otherwise spotless career.
“He’s coming back in a year or two, he’ll be ready. He has a passion for the sport, the fans love him, it’s something you just can’t walk away from that easy,” said Gatlin.
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The eight-time Olympic gold medallist had long said that the 2017 London World Championships would be his swansong.
Naturally, all eyes were on the 30-year-old as he hunted double gold. He missed out on his first opportunity and had to be content with just a bronze as Americans Gatlin and Christian Coleman pipped him to the post in the 100m.
When everybody waited with bated breath to see Bolt anchor Jamaica to the relay gold, the unthinkable happened. In a rare, unbelievable sight, Bolt went down with an apparent hamstring injury.
The heart of the matter
Gatlin even went on to add that Bolt will do well even if he makes a U-turn and returns to the sport that he so loves. With Bolt, the intensity of any competition goes up by notches and it will only make the likes of Coleman, Jaylen Bacon and himself hungrier, the 35-year-old believes.
Gatlin, who has twice been a doping offender in the past, acknowledged Bolt’s massive contribution to the sport and pointed out that the night of the relay shock, will, in no way, define what he has done before.
He also concurred with what many others have suggested that it was the delay to the start of the race in the cold conditions that probably was instrumental in Bolt’s injury, which might have been a severe cramp.
Jamaica looked set for a medal when Bolt took over the baton from his teammate Yohan Blake. Just as he started accelerating, the Jamaican great went down after hobbling as the world watched in horror. As the rest of his competitors all whizzed past him, the man lay forlorn and grimacing in pain.
All his teammates huddled around him to help him to feet and he limped to the finish line after some time with the whole stadium applauding one of global sport’s most enduring figures.
Nobody knows whether this incident will make Bolt rethink his retirement decision. It is only up to the legend himself to take the final call, depending upon his health and fitness.
One of Bolt’s greatest contemporaries, Michael Phelps came back for one last taste of Olympic swimming glory at Rio last year and ended his glittering career on a high.
Similarly, if Bolt too does come back, he will only make the world of sports grow richer with his presence.