LONDON – Usain Bolt’s final appearance on the track ended in agony on Saturday as he pulled up injured running the final leg of the World Championships 4x100 metres relay as Britain beat the United States for a shock gold medal.
Bolt, who had to settle for bronze in the individual 100 metres, had been hoping to sign off from the sport by leading Jamaica to a fifth successive relay gold, but they were already struggling in third when he collected the baton.
As he tried to gain ground, Bolt pulled up and fell to the floor with what looked like a hamstring injury.
The United States, with individual gold and silver medallists Justin Gatlin and Christian Coleman running the second and fourth legs, had been expected to push the Jamaicans all the way.
Instead, a brilliantly executed race by Chijindu Ujah, Adam Gemili, Danny Talbot and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake gave Britain gold in 37.47 seconds, the best time in the world this year.
The US took silver in 37.52 with Japan third in 38.04.
Earlier, Mo Farah’s aura of invincibility after six years of unrelenting success was finally cracked in his very last major track race on Saturday as he lost his world 5 000m title to Ethiopia’s Muktar Edris.
Seeking a fitting end to his matchless long-distance racing career before moving to marathon running, the 34-year-old Briton’s bid for a fifth straight global 10 000m-5 000m double was scuppered as he had to settle for the silver.
Yet even in defeat, Farah demonstrated his champion’s spirit as he fought back in the dying metres when it looked as if he would be shut out of the medals completely.
In a thrilling finale featuring four athletes careering towards the line, Farah snatched back second place behind Edris, who clocked 13 minutes 32.79 seconds (13:32.79) after a searing final lap of 52.6 seconds.
“I gave it all but I had nothing left at the end,” a crestfallen and emotional Farah said.
“It’s been a long journey, but it’s been incredible. It doesn’t quite sink in until you compete here and cross the line – I had a couple of minutes to myself – that this is it.
“To be honest with you, it takes so much out of me. It’s not an excuse, but it took a lot more out of me than I realised.”
It was a glorious win for 23-year-old Ethiopian Edris, the fastest man in the world this year, who had lost all his five previous meetings with Farah.
Yet just like Usain Bolt in the 100 metres the previous weekend, it did look a race too far for the weary Briton.
To rub in his victory after years of the Ethiopians being tormented by Farah’s brilliance, Edris even gave an impression of his rival’s famed “Mobot” celebration as he crossed the line.
“I was highly prepared for this race and I knew I was going to beat Mo Farah,” Edris said. “After the 10km, he was maybe tired, so he did not have enough for the last kick. I was stronger.
“I didn’t have much support, but we did it. I did the Mobot out of respect as well for him.”
Behind Edris, Farah dug deep to battle back from fourth to second when space opened up on the inside over the last few metres to take silver in 13:33.22.
Kenyan-born American Paul Chelimo claimed bronze in 13:33.30, while Farah’s late burst also consigned another Ethiopian, Yomif Kejelcha, to fourth place in 13:33.51.
It was a poignant sight after so many Farah celebrations down the years to see him lying on his back, exhausted and forlorn with his arm draped across his face, but his rivals were not about to let the moment pass without celebrating him.
Edris hauled Farah to his feet as his other rivals all wanted to give him a hug of consolation.
It was the great man’s first defeat in a major championship race since the 2011 world 10 000m final when he also won silver – and, once again, it took dazzling speed to beat him over the last lap.
“Tactically, I was trying to cover every move,” said Farah, after being consoled by his wife and four children at trackside.
“They had the game plan – one of them was going to sacrifice themselves. That’s what they did tonight, and the better man won on the day.
“My legs had it on the home straight. I got boxed-in early on – it doesn’t normally happen – and couldn’t get out.”