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Drama At The World Championships as Bolt & Farah Say Goodbye

By Kevin Cain

It was supposed to a “night to remember” as the Shalamar song goes. Usain Bolt and Mo Farah were to both make their farewells at the World Athletics Championships held in London, and the athletics world waited with baited breath.Although both athletes planned to compete after the World Championships it would be at much smaller events and would not be together. So the stage was all set for both athletes to leave with a fond farewell on the World Stage with medals dangling down from their necks.

However, as the evening transpired it was not quite as they both had hoped. Bolt was the first one up and could only manage to finish third in the 100m beaten by fellow Americans Justin Gatlin and Christian Coleman, of course unpopular Gatlin is most remembered for cheating and having two drug bans from athletics, it was perverse it was him that stole the “lightning.” Bolt’s hope for a gold now rested in the relay, but this ended in disaster.With 50m left to go in the race, the unforgivable happened. Bolt deserved better, after all the enjoyment he has given to millions across the world to end his career with a hamstring pull was to say the least cruel.

The capacity crowd were assembled to witness a lap of honour by Bolt to celebrate new medals won and a glittering career that shall never be eclipsed. The actual departure from the stadium was a sad sight, as a distraught Bolt was adamant that a wheelchair was not going to be his final farewell as the coaches and medical staff struggled to help him away.

Controversy ensued later when relay athletes complained the injury was caused by Bolt having to wait too long to run. The organisers decided that the presentation for the women’s high jump was more important than the relay, and the runners were left out in the cold waiting.

The 21st century has proved to be Bolt’s millennium, he has dominated the sport of athletics with complete disrespect to world records and by blasting past achievements apart. His celebrations will live in the memory forever, posing with his trademark “Lightning Bolt” stance and a flash of brilliant white teeth illuminating stadiums all over the world. It is hard to exaggerate his popularity as he is loved by young and old from all four corners of the globe.

The evening did not quite pan out as the British favourite Mo Farah expected either. Farah is possibly the only athlete that could compete with Bolt as far as achievements and popularity goes, but it was not to be his night either.It was in Farah’s last 5k race ever, that he fell foul to a well hatched plan by his Ethiopian competitors. Farah had won this event a staggering ten times before, and the London crowd were hoping for an eleventh.

The Ethiopians had a “cunning plan” that one would fall on his sword and sacrifice his own race so his colleague could beat Farah. And it worked superbly, Muktar Edris took the gold and Farah had to settle for the Silver medal. It was a second blow to the expectant throng as another favourite had been foiled in their efforts to finish their careers in jubilant fashion. Perhaps the shooter on the grassy knoll who hijacked Bolt, and Dick Dastardly and Muttley the rotten culprits that scuppered Farah, who will ever be remembered on a night that spoiled millions of viewers hopes. Real sports fans love to say goodbye to their heroes in a proper fashion, and the night of Saturday the 12th of August was a bitter blow not just to the fans, but also the athletes themselves, everybody deserved better.

The fact that the home crowd had plenty to cheer with multiple medal successes for Britain on the night, did not really balance up the feeling of injustice. Tears of pity and not joy were the order of the day. But rather than wallowing in a pool of despair, a look at both athletes incredible achievements is bound to bring good cheer. Bolt achieved something at the Rio 2016 Olympics, that will probably never be repeated, he won an unprecedented third consecutive Olympic 100m, 200m and 4x100 relay triple. One sports journalist commented, “Bolt can become Immortal” referring to his attempt at Rio, after his first win, his reply was pure genius, “Two more medals to go and I can sign off Immortal.”

Mo Farah was recognised for his contribution to British athletics by collecting a knighthood in 2017. He sprang to fame in 2012 in London with double victories in the 5,000 and 10,000 metres, and duplicated this Olympic feat in 2016. Only Farah and the brilliant Lasse Viren have ever done this.

Of course these are only the Olympic highlights from both athletes, many World, European and Championship records also adorn their careers. For Bolt and Farah to grace the track at the same time was rare good fortune for everybody who had the chance to see them race.

Both had one thing in common and that was sheer determination, their styles were very different but the results the same. Everybody will have their own favourite and to be brutally honest it will be Bolt that will probably remain most in people’s memories. However, this should not detract any from what Mo Farah has achieved.

It is just such a crying shame that the 12th of August did not live up to all the expectation, as it would have been a fitting finale for two titans of the athletics track to bow out as they should have done, with the crowd on their feet applauding and cheering two of the 21st century's best ever runners.