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I could have run faster, says 'rusty' world champ Usain Bolt

Jamaican sprint king says yesterday's 9.79s gold medal-winning effort in Beijing was not his best as he stumbled again just like in the semis

Beijing: Usain Bolt beat his controversial rival Justin Gatlin by just one-hundredth of a second yesterday as he retained his world 100m title in a race billed as a battle between clean sports and doping. Bolt, the double Olympic gold medallist and world record holder, ran his season’s best of 9.79 seconds in a thrilling race against Gatlin, who’s served two doping bans.

Usain Bolt
Usain Bolt celebrates after winning the men’s 100m final at the Bird’s Nest National Stadium in Beijing yesterday. Pic/AFP

Gatlin faltered through the closing stages, taking silver with 9.80sec — slower than his semi-final time of 9.77 set earlier at the Bird’s Nest Stadium. Gatlin’s fellow American Trayvon Bromell and Canadian Andre de Grasse shared the bronze medal position after both timing 9.92sec.

two good: Jamaica’s Usain Bolt hugs USA’s Justin Gatlin (right) after beating him to win gold in the men’s 100m race at the IAAF World Championships at the Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing yesterday. pic/AFP
Two good: Jamaica’s Usain Bolt hugs USA’s Justin Gatlin (right) after beating him to win gold in the men’s 100m race at the IAAF World Championships at the Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing yesterday. Pic/AFP

“That still was not the best. I still stumbled,” Jamaica’s Bolt said in reference to clumsy footwork close to the blocks, after a similar error nearly derailed him in the semi-final. “I came here relaxed, no stress and brought it home. My aim is to be the number one until I retire and therefore I am pushing myself and pushing myself. It’s all about running the race and getting it done. You can call that race rusty, I could have run faster.”

top guns:  (L-R) Canada’s Andre De Grasse, Jamaica’s Asafa Powell, USA’s Justin Gatlin, USA’s Tyson Gay, Jamaica’s Usain Bolt, USA’s Mike Rodgers, USA’s Trayvon Bromell, China’s Su Bingtian and France’s Jimmy Vicaut compete in the final of the men’s 100 metres event at the IAAF World Championships at the Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing yesterday. pic/AFP
Top guns:  (L-R) Canada’s Andre De Grasse, Jamaica’s Asafa Powell, USA’s Justin Gatlin, USA’s Tyson Gay, Jamaica’s Usain Bolt, USA’s Mike Rodgers, USA’s Trayvon Bromell, China’s Su Bingtian and France’s Jimmy Vicaut compete in the final of the en’s 100 metres event at the IAAF World Championships at the Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing yesterday. Pic/AFP

Bolt, who celebrated his 29th birthday on Friday, was greeted with massive cheers at the stadium in which he took the world by storm at the 2008 Olympics with treble sprint gold, before repeating the feat in London in 2012. Chants of ‘Usain Bolt’ rang around along with acclaim for China’s Su Bingtian, Bolt raising his eyebrows at a classical piano rendition from a Chinese musician and checking out his beard as his face featured on the big screen. In their first meeting over 100m since the last final in the Moscow worlds in 2013, when Gatlin also came second to Bolt, the American suffered from a slower start than the Jamaican.

Gatlin, a renowned fast starter who hasn’t lost over 100m or 200m since 2013 and has set personal bests for both distances — 9.74 and 19.57sec — this season, pegged equal with Bolt out of the blocks.

Sandwiched between Mike Rodgers in four and Tyson Gay in six, Bolt, head down for the first 40 metres, moved into his ‘drive phase’, unbuckling his long, powerful legs, but didn’t dare look across the field until a savage dip at the line saw him win a memorable race.

With allegations of widespread doping dominating the build-up to the worlds, the Jamaican’s showdown with the sport’s pantomime villain Gatlin was portrayed by some as a symbolic struggle of light versus dark. Gatlin has served two doping bans.

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