I suspect many doubt the integrity of Gatlin’s win last night, an athlete twice banned for doping winning the World Championships at the age of 35. This might be completely unfair, but not without reason.
In the same event, Usain Bolt ended an athletics career that has made him a god amongst men. Justin Gatlin may have won, it wasn’t the fairy tale ending but sport doesn’t always follow the script.
Now he is going.
However this isn’t about Bolt’s achievements, which are unrivaled in his sport.
Well liked – and often successful – sportsmen always leave a ‘hole’ in their respective sports when they retire. Wladimir Klitschko, one of the great heavyweights, recently retired. Roger Federer, Tom Brady and Phil Taylor when they eventually retire.
The difference being Bolt has helped hold his sport together.
When the Olympics and athletics, rocked by scandals, needed a hero to stand tall, his stood up. To quote Cram on Bolt beating Gatlin in 2015, “He saved his title, He saved his reputation, He may have even saved his sport”.
By my own admission I am a casual athletics fan. London 2012 aside, watching Bolt has held my interest in the sport of athletics. What boils down to a sub-ten second final, has keep my interest the in the World Championships this year.
The next World Championships are in 2019 and Olympics in 2020.
Usain Bolt can never be replaced, but Christian Coleman looks promising. For the casual fan, we need somebody to like, somebody who we want to win. More importantly, in a sport plagued by doping, we need somebody who we know is clean, somebody who can beat the next Gatlin and endear the crowd along the way.
Thank you, Usain Bolt.