Bolt’s final race in Jamaica: a five-hour outpouring of love and exaltation
Jamaican sprinting champion Usain Bolt marked an emotional farewell at a sell-out stadium in Jamaica by winning his final 100m on home soil.
The 30-year-old will retire in August after his illustrious career. He will wave goodbye to the track after the World Championships in London. However, he began his goodbye in front of 30,000 adoring fans in Kingston, Jamaica.
An eight-time Olympic gold medallist, Bolt easily won the ‘Salute a Legend’ race in his first 100m of 2017. However, he admitted to a rare attack of nerves.
“The run, it was just OK. I must say it was OK. I don’t think I’ve ever been that nervous running a 100m,” he said.
Bolt clocked 10.03 seconds to win before a lap of honour in front of a raucous crowd. The crowd danced, waved flags and blew their vuvuzela horns while fireworks lit the sky.
The 100m and 200m world record holder returned to kiss the finishing line before flashing his signature ‘lightning bolt’ pose.
The occasion akin to a religious experience, was a five-hour outpouring of love and joyous exaltation from 35,000 people. To many, this is perhaps the greatest athlete in their history.
It was here at the National Stadium in 2002 that he first made his name – winning the world junior 200m title as a 15-year-ol. Back then, he beat athletes three years his senior.
As the athletes lined up for the 100m on Saturday 10 June, Bolt still shadow-boxed like a prize-fighter. When the gun went off, he didn’t leave the blocks the quickest. Yet at 50 metres he was ahead and away – and, as always, simply uncatchable.
Bolt may not have been too happy with “possibly one of my worst races”. He was more concerned with staying injury free and putting “on a show for the crowd”. The 30-year-old wanted to show them “I’m thankful for the support over the years”.
He added: “Just the atmosphere and the people, the support they came out and gave me, it was really nerve-racking.
“I never expected this, I knew it was going to be big, the stadium was ram-packed so thank you guys for coming out and supporting me”.
More than a million applications have been made for the 700,000 tickets available to see the championships in London. It is at these races when both Bolt and Sir Mo Farah will make their final track appearances.
Four-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Mo Farah has not ruled out running the marathon at Tokyo 2020.
Farah, 33, became Britain’s most successful Olympic track and field athlete by winning the 5,000m and 10,000m in Rio 2016.
Both Sir Mo Farah and Bolt will retire after the championships in London Stadium in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
The stadium is also now home to Premier League side West Ham United. The capacity of the stadium will be around 50,000 per session.