Usain Bolt took an emotional final bow on the track at the end of the World Championships in London on Sunday before declaring that, definitely and definitively, there was no way he would ever return to sprinting.
Bolt toured the London Stadium very slowly, walking stiffly, to say goodbye to his fans. Journalists later asked if he might consider a return to the track but he ruled it out.
He said, “I think I’ve seen too many people retire and come back into sport just to really make it worse or to shame themselves. So, I personally feel now I won’t be one of those persons to come back.”
Twenty four hours earlier, the 30-year-old Jamaican’s matchless sprint career had ended painfully on the last leg of the 4 x 100 metres relay final as he crumpled to the ground in the London Stadium with a hamstring injury.
Bolt, plainly injured and finding it difficult to move from standing to sitting, admitted that it had been a terrible end to a stressful championship after also losing his 100 metres crown.
He said he had felt consoled on Sunday when someone reminded him that Muhammad Ali had lost his last fight too and he had reporters laughing when he said Manchester United’s 4-0 win against West Ham United had made him smile on what had otherwise been a difficult 24 hours.
Bolt appeared in the stadium where he achieved the second of his three Olympic sprint doubles.
He was presented with a piece of the 2012 track as a memento before he embarked on his celebration lap, slowly soaking up all the cheers from the 56,000 full house.
He went over to the 200 metres and 100 metres start lines, knelt down and crossed himself, then made his signature “lightning bolt” pose and was gone.
Meanwhile, Caster Semenya claimed another global title when she won the world 800 metres gold after surging clear. Earlier in the week she won bronze in the 1500m race.
Semenya, 26, is the 2016 Olympic and 2009 world champion and is poised to gain two more golds after Russian doper Mariya Savinova-Farnosova was stripped of her 2012 Olympic and 2011 world titles.
Semenya said attempting the double in London was tough but she might aim to do it again at the Commonwealth Games in Australia next year.
Olympic champions the United States also reclaimed their women’s 4x400m relay world title and added to Allyson Felix’s haul of gold medals.
Felix won her 11th gold medal in the World Championships to equal Usain Bolt’s tally. She had 16 medals in all, making her the most decorated World Championships athlete.
The 31-year-old said she wants to keep competing until the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games if possible.
Kenya’s Hellen Obiri said she knew the women’s 5000m race would be fast and went with defending champion Almaz Ayana. She saw her chance with 200m remaining and “I say to myself I can go.”
Kenya also secured another gold when Elijah Manangoi won the men’s 1500-metre final.