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ES Views Letter of the Day: Gatlin's victory has damaged athletics

13 August 2017

If athletics thought it would be poorer for the loss of Usain Bolt and Mo Farah before these World Championships, the last week has succeeded only in escalating those fears. Neither is it about his imposing frame. Win or lose, Saturday's race will be his last before he hangs up his spikes.

Bolt is also known to love a great party. The way he does his lap of honour at the end of each race is simply exhilarating. The press made several puns about Bolt's 100m race and the nickname gained worldwide familiarity after that.

It wasn't the tone of a man who had made athletics more popular. "Ever since he descended in Beijing for the 2008 Olympics with his 6'5" frame, he has shredded to bits every competitive field assembled.

Still, Bolt was supportive of his young teammates.

The Jamaican sprinter pulls up on the last leg of the 4x100m relay on Saturday night
The Jamaican sprinter pulls up on the last leg of the 4x100m relay on Saturday night

One final time, the World's Fastest Man furiously pumped the arms and legs on his gangly 6-foot-5 frame, desperately trying to reel in all those would-be winners as the finish line fast approached. But Bolt's phenomenon isn't limited by mere numbers and the colour of the metal.

Bolt also raced his way to the bank. That is when Bolt burst onto the scene.

Bolt has amassed eight Olympic golds and 14 world medals, 11 of which are gold, the Jamaican having won two silvers in 2007 before his 100m bronze in London.

This year, however, he only got bronze in the 100 behind Gatlin.

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Meanwhile, Gatlin served that suspension at the peak of his career (ages 24-28). He has been a role model to the sport and a national hero in his country for his success without any taints of doping. It was of someone who had provided the sport with a new lease of life. He showed the world that an athlete does not need to cut corners before becoming a global prodigy.

Experienced Yohan Blake, who finished fourth in the men's 100m final and failed to qualify for the final round in 200m, did not start in the heats but Bolt later said that he will return in the final race.

Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands successfully defended her world title in the 200, winning in 22.05. His exit will leave a hole in the sport that will be hard to fill. "I really appreciate competing against him and he is a good person", he added. In a blemished period, Bolt has been unblemished.

Always a fan favorite, Bolt maintained his Hollywood smile as he jogged around the track following the race, Jamaican flag in tow.

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There was supposed to be only one, the 4 x 100 metres relay final on Saturday night, but Bolt has offered us an extra treat by opting to run the heats too earlier that morning. He was athletics' Muhammad Ali and Pele rolled into one. "Usain Bolt is a genius". He has done just enough to put his name in gold in the hearts of sports fans. All this has happened two days ago but it seems the world has still not come to terms with it.

Sure, the British weather has clearly had an impact on the sprint events.

A new star, 21-year-old American Christian Coleman beat Bolt over the line and it should have been all about him as sprinting's next big thing.

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ES Views Letter of the Day: Gatlin's victory has damaged athletics