The 30-year-old Usain Bolt, seeking to add a final global 100m gold to his unrivalled collection, had to settle for bronze when his perennial rival Justin Gatlin, five years his senior at 35, came through to win.This is Bolt's first bronze at a championships where he has amassed 11 golds and two silvers – in 9.95.
The Silverware also went to the 22-year-old US sprinter who still leads this year’s world list, Christian Coleman, who finished in 9.94.
But, just as he had at last month’s US Championships, Gatlin – who has served two doping bans – came through over the final 15 metres to beat his young rival, finishing in a season’s best of 9.92 to reclaim a title he last won in 2005.
Although Bolt will finish his career by running the 4x100m for his country here, this was a farewell to an individual sporting legend whose charisma rivals that of the late Muhammad Ali.
As Gatlin kneeled on the track in tearful disbelief, offering at the same time a salute to the beaten champion, Bolt – as big in defeat as he has always been in victory – strolled over and gave him a warm hug, exchanging a few words.
“Usain said to me ‘congratulations, you deserve it’. He knows how hard I work,” Gatlin said later.
Bolt’s finale continued with an unhurried lap of honour, as he bent to kiss the lane he had run in before obliging with the ‘To The World’ stance before bowing to the adoring supporters who had remained behind to wave their green and yellow flags and scarves at him. Never has a 100m bronze medallist been so feted.
Last to be introduced a rapturous crowd before the final, he had sauntered through the entrance with the confident smile of a talkshow host. But for once, the confidence was misplaced.