Bolt Signs off with Relay Win to become World Championships’ Most Successful Athlete
Fittingly, the athlete of the 14th International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships produced its final flourish as Usain Bolt became the event’s most successful competitor in securing his third gold here by anchoring the Jamaican relay team to victory in a 4×100 meters relay which the United States needed to win to knock the hosts off the top of the final medals table.
The 26-year-old sprinter now joins Carl Lewis and Allyson Felix on 10 medals, but while the two U.S. sprinters have eight golds, one silver and one bronze, he has eight golds and two silvers.
“I feel proud of myself,” said Bolt. “I will continue to work to dominate for as long as possible. Now I’m not in the shape I want to be, so we’ll see what happens in the Diamond League final.”
The U.S. team had carried a lead into the final changeover, but – just as they had done in the first round – Rakieem Salaam and Justin Gatlin got their exchange all wrong, nullifying any chance the individual silver medalist might have had of matching the champion. Gatlin salvaged silver as he clocked 37.66 sec, but his country finished second in the overall standings to Russia, who had only 17 medals to America’s 24 but, crucially, seven golds to their six. Britain’s quartet finished third but lost bronze on an appeal for an illegal second changeover.
Britain’s women sprinters, however, gained from the late disqualification of France to move up into bronze position in their 4x100m relay. The Jamaican men’s final victory, added to the easy win achieved by their women’s 4x100m runners – with individual 100m and 200m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce anchoring her quartet to a Championship record of 41.29 after the U.S. had bungled a changeover and eventually had to settle for silver – moved them up to third place overall ahead of Kenya, with six gold medals.
Despite Bolt’s achievement in anchoring the Jamaican men to a winning time of 37.36, the outstanding performance of the final day came from France’s triple jumper Teddy Tamgho, whose career since he won the 2011 European indoor title has been affected by injury and controversy.
He returned to the top of the sport here with a stupendous final winning jump of 18.04 meters, the fourth best ever recorded behind the 18.09m Kenny Harrison produced to win the 1996 Olympic title and the consecutive world records of 18.16m and 18.29m which Jonathan Edwards jumped to win the 1995 world title.
By the time he took his final jump Tamgho – who was suspended for six months in 2012 following an altercation with a female athlete and subsequently suffered an ankle injury requiring an operation – was already champion.Having taken a first round lead with 17.65m, he matched the 17.68m jumped by 20-year-old Pedro Pirchardo of Cuba in the second round with his fourth round attempt and would thus have been champion by virtue of a better second best effort.
Either side of that 17.68m effort his foot had been narrowly over the mark as he produced two jumps which would have given him the clear lead.For his final effort, however, everything was technically correct.
Will Claye of the United States took bronze in 17.52m ahead of his compatriot and defending champion Christian Taylor, whose hopes of matching the Soviet athlete Victor Saneyev in securing three successive global titles were obliterated on a day when he could only manage 17.20m.
Asbel Kiprop defended his 1500m title with a commanding performance in a slow and tactical race to cross in 3min 36.28sec.
As long-time leader Nixon Chepseba, Kiprop’s fellow Kenyan, faltered in the final 15m, Matt Centrowitz of the U.S. came past him on the outside to take silver in 3:36.78, and Johan Cronje of South Africa bronze in 3:36.83.
Chepseba was fourth in 3:36.87.
Alysia Johnson Montano took a similar gamble to Chepseba in the women’s 800m, with exactly the same result as Kenya’s Eunice Sum and Russia’s Olympic and defending champion Mariya Savinova came past her in the final 30 meters – with the Kenyan taking gold in a personal best of 1:57.38 – and fellow American Brenda Martinez got her on the line for bronze.
Russia’s Mariya Abakumova, whose husband Dmitry Tarabin had received a phone call of encouragement from President Vladimir Putin a few hours before winning javelin bronze last night, added another javelin bronze to the family collection with an effort of 65.09m as Germany’s Christine Obergfoll of Germany finally won global gold with a throw of 69.05m ahead of Australia’s Kimberley Mickle, who claimed silver with a second successive personal best of 66.60.
Inside the Games is a blog of the London Organizing Committee that helped put on the 2012 Summer Olympics. This article is reprinted here with permission of the authors of the blog.