Usain Bolt insisted he had no regrets after Justin Gatlin gatecrashed his farewell in the 100 metres final at the World Championships.
The Jamaican was forced to settle for third in his final solo race at the London Stadium on Saturday after also being beaten by the USA’s Christian Coleman.
The 35-year-old Gatlin — booed throughout after his previous doping violations — won a highly-charged race in 9.92 seconds, with Coleman completing an American one-two in 9.94secs and Bolt crossing the line in 9.95.
It shocked the crowd who had come to see Bolt sign off in style as he prepares to retire at the end of the championships — and the eight-time Olympic champion insisted the defeat changes nothing.
“No regrets. I came out and did my best, I was always to end no matter what happened — win, lose or draw I was always going to walk away,” said the 30-year-old.
“It doesn’t change anything in my career, I have done everything I can do for the sport and for myself. It’s time to go.
“It doesn’t change anything. I lost the race to a great competitor, I came third to a young kid coming up — he has a great talent and a great future ahead of him.
“No matter what happened this season I was going to come out and do my best. I did it for the fans, they really wanted me to do one more season.
“I worked hard, I’m definitely disappointed. No one is going to be happy they didn’t win but I knew I came out here and I gave my all.”
Bolt was aiming to claim a fourth 100m world title after victories in Berlin, Moscow, and Beijing but had another shocking start.
He again failed to get going after having poor starts in his heat and semi-final — fiercely criticising the blocks after Friday night’s heat.
The IAAF had dismissed his complaints, insisting the blocks are the same model as used as in Beijing two years ago.
Bolt recovered in the second half of the race again but could not bring in Gatlin or Coleman — the fastest man in the world going into what was his first international championships.
“That was the only thing, after the semi-finals, I ran the semi-finals with Coleman, and I knew if I didn’t get my start I was going to be in trouble,” he said.
“That’s it, I knew it. When I left he blocks I was like ‘ahhh’. I knew I had to try so I came out and tried my best but it wasn’t good enough.
“I don’t know what to say about my start, this is the first time in a championships I’ve gone thorough and it’s been so poor. I was going through the mixed zone and looked at the start and my reaction was 0.183.
“It shows I was way off. I knew from the start if I didn’t get in to race I would be in trouble.”
The result was not immediately clear, with the crowd waiting to see the scoreboard, but when it showed the standings it left the London Stadium in stunned silence before they began to chant Bolt’s name as Gatlin celebrated and was in tears on the track.
Gatlin’s celebrations were a sideshow as Bolt still took the plaudits and did a lap of honour.
The American was the pantomime villain throughout the competition, having previously been banned for doping violations in 2001 and 2006.
Bolt added: “For me, over the years, he has done his time, if he’s here then it’s okay. I will always respect him as a competitor.
“Over the years he has worked hard and he is one of the best I have competed with. I know if I don’t show up he’s always going to win and he showed up. He deserves to be here because he’s done his time and he’s worked hard to get back to being one of the best athletes.
“He is a great competitor. I’ve always said that about Justin Gatlin. You have to be at your best and I wasn’t and that’s what I respect about him because he competes and I really appreciate competing with him.”
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