Athletics legends Usain Bolt and Mo Farah experienced some of their greatest moments in their careers at the 2012 Olympics in London but five years on and back in the same stadium, misery replaced joy.
Bolt, who won the individual 100 and 200m and the 4x100m relay in London in 2012, collapsed to the track injured on Aug. 12 anchoring the Jamaica 4x100 meters relay team.
Briton Farah, who had won the first of his four global double doubles of 5,000m and 10,000m to deafening cheers in London in 2012, put up a spirited and courageous effort but for the first time in six years of global championship competition he had to settle for silver behind Muktar Edris of Ethiopia.
Bolt’s teammates complained that his problem was caused by organizers keeping the relay teams waiting in the cold before their race as several medal ceremonies were held. “I think they were holding us too long in the call room. The walk was too long. Usain was really cold. In fact Usain said to me, ‘Yohan, I think this is crazy. 40 minutes and two medal presentations before our run’,” said Yohan Blake, who branded the wait as “crazy.”
“We kept warming up and waiting, then warming up and waiting,” added the 2011 100m world champion, who also won Olympic relay gold in 2012 and 2016 with Bolt. “I think it got the better of us. We were over warm.”
Jamaica’s 110m hurdles world champion Omar McLeod -- who ran the first leg -- likewise pointed the finger at organizers for denying his country’s greatest star a more fitting swansong.
“It’s heart wrenching,” said McLeod, who is also the Olympic champion.
“It was ridiculous man, we were there around 45 minutes waiting outside, I think they had three medal ceremonies before we went out so we were really trying our hardest to stay warm and keep upbeat.
“But it was ridiculous. We waited a really long time. I drank like two bottles of water.” Their criticism echoed that of Justin Gatlin, who led an American
1-2 alongside teammate Christian Coleman to deny Bolt a farewell gold in the individual 100m.
“I think it was the elements. I am sorry he got this injury. He is still the best in the world,” said Gatlin. “It was a recipe. I don’t want to say this, I understand we need to be ready early, but I think we took our clothes off a little too early. “It’s a little chilly in here so I think that’s where the cramp came from. That’s what he suffered with. He was running out there cold.”
Farah, who started the championships in grand style by winning the 10,000m, had been left by Edris as the bell went and as hard as he tried he just didn’t quite have the legs to pass his younger rival in the finishing straight. “It’s been amazing. It’s been a long journey but it’s been incredible,” said Farah who was embraced by his fans as he made his way around the stadium on a lap of honor, stopping to sign autographs and pose for selfies.