Usain Bolt's thunder stolen by Justin Gatlin in final 100m race
Legendary Jamaican runner takes bronze behind 2 Americans
Usain Bolt has ended his stellar 100-metre career without a world title in his final individual race.
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In a tight finish, Bolt was punished for his slow start and Justin Gatlin held him off at the line in 9.92 seconds. American sprinter Christian Coleman took silver in 9.94 seconds and Bolt took bronze in 9.95. Gatlin and Bolt both posted a season-best time.
"I think my body is telling me that this is it. I've done it all and I've tried my best. It's just one of those things, you got to know when to go and I think it's time for me to go," Bolt told CBC Sports' Perdita Felicien.
Gatlin knows what Bolt has meant to the sport, graciously bowing in admiration in front of him — even after beating him. The two men, never really friends, warmly embraced and spoke.
"Throughout the years, the rivalry that you see between me and Usain is a gentleman's rivalry. We've never had ill will towards each other." Gatlin said.
"At the end of the day, we pushed each other. He's made me the runner I am today, the competitor I am today and he's also told me that I've pushed him."
Bolt was aiming for his fourth world championship in the 100. Despite the loss, he remains arguably one of greatest sprinters of all time. He holds the world record in the distance, having broken his own mark at the 2009 worlds in Berlin to reset the bar at 9.58.
"It's hard to believe," Bolt said of the reception he received from fans even after the loss. "The energy after what happened on the track with the race, the energy that they gave me and continue to show so much love. I really appreciate that. I knew it was going to be like this but when you're actually there and feeling the energy — it's just a brilliant feeling."
Likely because of his doping past, the 35-year-old Gatlin was booed following the race. His career has been interrupted by two doping suspensions.
"My shields are up now. I'd be more surprised if I didn't get booed in this atmosphere more than if I did get booed." Gatlin said.
"I knew I wasn't going to get a lot of love but at the end of the day it's just about the race and that's what I'm here for."
Gatlin was Olympic champion in 2004 before Bolt burst on the scene to capture three Olympic gold medals in the 100.
"He's going to leave a huge void.... But at the end of the day it's exciting because you now have young guys coming up and trying to make their mark," Gatlin said.
Bolt is expected to race for the last time in the men's 4x100 with his Jamaican teammates.
Canada's Andre De Grasse was set to compete but was forced to pull out on Wednesday after suffering a hamstring injury on Monday.
With files from The Associated Press