Gutsy Bolt takes gold to boost embattled sport

Sun Aug 23, 2015 2:13pm EDT
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By Nick Mulvenney

BEIJING (Reuters) - Usain Bolt swept aside a year of poor form and injury to retain his world 100 meters title in nail-biting fashion on Sunday and give his beleaguered sport the boost it so badly needed after three weeks of negative headlines.

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has been in crisis since the results of thousands of blood tests were leaked in early August, forcing it to defend the sport against allegations of widespread doping.

In that context, the blue riband sprint at the 15th world championships was variously cast as a morality play, a fight between good and evil and a nine-point-something seconds battle for the soul of the sport.

It pitched Bolt, whose status as a sporting icon was recently compared to that of the boxer Muhammad Ali by IAAF president-elect Seb Coe, against American Justin Gatlin, who has lost five years of his career to doping bans.

On Sunday, the Jamaican delivered victory in a time of 9.79 seconds that was far from his fastest but with a gutsy performance that will rank as one of his greatest.

Bolt had already rejected a role as the savior of his sport and he was no more inclined to accept the mantle after beating Gatlin into second place by one hundredth of a second.

"That's for you guys to decide," the 29-year-old said. "You guys are the ones that have been saying I need to save the sport so you have to write about that.

"For me I came here to add to my legendary status, to win and to continue my championship rights, so that's the focus."   Continued...

Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay from the U.S. and Usain Bolt (L-R) of Jamaica compete in the men's 100m final during the 15th IAAF World Championships at the National Stadium in Beijing, China August 23, 2015.  REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson