London: 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.
Young Ethiopian star Muktar Edris has beaten the all-dominating Mohamed Farah of Britain to win the men’s 5,000 metre title at the IAAF World Championships here.
Edris, who was crowned world youth champion in 2012, produced a strong charge on the final stretch to register a time of 13 minutes and 32.79 seconds on Saturday evening, Xinhua news agency reported.
The 23-year-old, who won the first major senior world title of his career, stopped Farah from taking his fourth 5,000m world title.
The Somali-origin Farah has won Olympic gold in the men’s 5,000m twice and has won the men’s 10,000m title at this event.
However, on Saturday night, Farah had to be content with the second place after finishing with a time of 13:33.22. Paul Kipkemoi Chelimo of the US took bronze in 13:33.30. Farah, who was surrounded by Ethiopian runners going into the final stages of the race, produced a desperate final sprint but failed to catch up with the leader.
“I gave it everything,” said Farah who initially curled up on the track in defeat and then was pulled up by Edris.
“It takes so much out of me. Tactically I was trying to cover every move. They had the game plan; one of them was going to sacrifice themselves… and the better man won on the day,” he added.
Just like Bolt, Farah finished his career with an unusual feeling of defeat.
The 34-year-old had won this event in the past three world championships and two Olympic Games, together with three world titles and two Olympic gold medals in 10,000m.
However, he remains hero of the country, bagging one gold and one silver in London, which are the only medals the hosts have won by far.
Farah, who had said this would be his last World Championships, will now turn his focus to marathon running.
While Farah handed over his long distance crown, the next generation of Ethiopian runners announced their arrival on the world stage.
Edris’ fellow Ethiopians 2016 world indoor champion Yomif Kejelcha, 21, and this year’s U-18 3,000m winner Selemon Barega were placed fourth and fifth respectively, indicating that the east Africans will continue to be a force to reckon at the international level.
A surprise also took place in the field events as Johannes Vetter of Germany grabbed his first ever medal at a major global competition — a golden one — with his first attempt of 89.89 meters to win the men’s javelin event even as defending champion Julius Yego and Olympic champion Thomas Rohler failed to deliver.
Jakub Vadlejch of Czech Republic finished second in 89.73m ahead of compatriot Petr Frydrych who registered 88.32m.
Rohler, from Germany, made a 88.26m throw in his second attempt and finished fourth while defending champion Julius Yego of Kenya was eliminated after the first three rounds.
In other events, Russia’s Maria Lasitskene retained the women’s high jump title.
The 24-year-old, competing as an authorized neutral athlete, cleared 2.03 meters for the gold medal. Ukraine’s Yuliia Levchenko took silver in 2.01 and Poland’s Kamila Licwinko was third in 1.99.
Lasitskene, who missed last year’s Rio Olympics because of Russia’s suspension, failed at 1.99 twice but regained form thereafter.
“My two failed attempts at 1.99m woke me up,” she said.
“A gold medal here was my main goal for this season but certainly I would like to raise the bar a bit higher. I didn’t like any one of my attempts at 2.08m.”
She challenged 2.08 three times but failed.
“It was an unbelievable championships for me. I was focussed from the opening jump until the last attempt. I didn’t allow myself to get emotional,” Levchenko said.
“At 2.01m it was not my best technical attempt. I thought that such a height would not forgive the mistakes I made.”
Meanwhile, USA regained the women’s 4x100m world crown which they last won at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu as they sailed to victory in 41.82 seconds while hosts Britain gladly bagged a silver in 42.12. Defending champions Jamaica clocked 42.19 for the bronze.
Australia’s Sally Pearson won her second world women’s 100 meters hurdles title in six years.
Pearson, 30, who won the world title in 2011 and Olympic gold five years ago, clocked 12.59 seconds for the gold. American Dawn Harper Nelson, who won the Olympic gold in Beijing and silver in London behind Pearson, took silver in 12.63 seconds. Germany’s Pamela Dutkiewicz finished third in 12.72 seconds.
“It’s been a long journey back from injury but to get this moment and go and celebrate in front of my family is unreal. This is just so incredible to be a world champion again,” Pearson, also the silver medallist in the Beijing Olympics, said.
“I love this stadium. I love the people and I’m so happy to have been back here doing the same thing again (winning gold). It’s a relief to be world champion.”
Rio Olympic silver medallist Kevin Mayer claimed France’s second gold from the men’s decathlon with a total of 8,768 points. Germany’s Rico Freimuth, bronze winner two years ago in the Beijing worlds, took silver in 8,564 points and his compatriot Kai Kazmirek got the bronze in 8,488. (IANS)