For 9.77 seconds Bolt silenced the whispers surrounding the 100 metres, storming to Gold at the World Championships
On the biggest stages the biggest stars always perform. Usain Bolt, the poster boy for entertainment and excellence in track and field, proved this once again with an emphatic victory in the 100 metre final of the Athletics World Championships in Moscow. On an evening that was very much billed as Bolt vs the Record Books,and a depleted field of opponents, the great man did not disappoint. A typically self-assured display saw Bolt cross the line in a time of 9.78 seconds; later rounded down to 9.77; impressive given the damp track and rainy conditions.
The finale: Bolt celebrating with the Jamaican flag draped around his shoulders in his trademark “to di world” pose after yet another global championship final victory belied the controversy that had dogged the build-up to the event . It has been a dark year for athletics’ blue riband event. There was no hiding the fact the fact Tyson Gay the man who had run the three fastest 100 metre times of the season, including a blistering 9.75 at the U.S. Championships, was missing from the field. The sporting world was shocked when he announced on 14th July that the had failed an out of competition drugs test and that he would subsequently withdraw from the world championships. As if that wasn’t enough, on the same day it was also revealed Asafa Powell, the fourth quickest 100 metre runner of all time had tested positive for the banned stimulant oxilofrine. Although Powell would not have competed at the 2013 World Championships, revelations of doping on what was perhaps the darkest day in the history of 100 metre sprinting since Ben Johnson was stripped of his Gold Medal at the 1988 Seoul Olympics left a bad taste in the mouth and lingering questions surrounding the credibility of the event.
With three of the four quickest men of all time having been banned for some sort of infringement of IAAF anti-doping rules and regulations, fears persist about Bolt’s ability to avoid falling foul of the testers. After all Powell and Gay both claim they were unaware of their transgressions and that people in their respective camps “let them down”, somehow allowing banned substances to enter their bodies. Bolt’s answer to the dreaded doping question was emphatic on and off the track. He stated; ” I am confident in myself and my team, the people I work with. And I know I am clean.” He also pointed critics to his track record arguing “If you were following me since 2002 you would know that I have been doing phenomenal things…I was the youngest person to win the world juniors at 15. I ran the world junior  record 19.93 at  … I have broken every record there is to break, in every event I have ever done…I have shown everything throughout the years since I was always going to be great.”
It was fitting that yesterday Bolt’s main antagonist was none other than Justin Gatlin. The 2004 Olympic Champion is perhaps the sport’s most hated “drugs cheat”. He returned to the circuit in 2011 after a four year ban for testing positive for testosterone. In the eyes of many he has played the role of pantomime villain ever since. Barking “let’s go” on the start line, it was obvious Gatlin was pumped up and confident. He even had an early season victory over a still rusty Bolt in Rome to his credit. The stage was set for good vs. evil, Bolt vs. Gatlin. The starting gun sounded and Gatlin sprang out of the blocks and powered through the first half of the race, leaving Bolt playing catch up. Then the 6 time Olympic gold medallist did what he does best; making use of his long, regal strides and swallowing up the track with each step. He eclipsed his American rival and the rest of the field to regain the World Championship he forfeited to Yohan Blake via a false start in 2011. Gatlin finished second in a time of 9.85 seconds and third was Bolt’s Jamaican compatriot Nesta Carter who clocked a time of 9.95 seconds. British hope James Dasaolu slumped to an 8th place finish despite his promising semi-final run. Nevertheless, based on his sudden ascendency this year one can be sure that it won’t be long before Dasaolu gets the chance to improve on that lacklustre display. For now we can rest assured that in a season soured by doping scandals and on an evening dampened by pouring rain, Bolt’s prowess erased the harsher details of recent events. In 10 seconds, (9.77 to be exact) we were treated to a stunning visual reminder of the 26 year old Jamaican’s mastery of the 100 metre sprint.