Bolt failed to finish the men’s 4x100m relay race of the World Athletics Championships here after he pulled a hamstring at the home straight.
The astonishing turn of events marred what was expected to be a golden farewell.
Running the final race of his career, the 30-year-old Bolt, after taking the baton from his Jamaican teammate Yohan Blake, suffered cramps on his left hamstring as he tried, in vain, to chase down the British and American rivals in the last lap of the race.
Needing to make a lot of ground, Bolt began his familiar initial long strides but could not produce the trademark explosive burst of speed and suddenly stumbled, hobbled a few strides before falling on the track in pain and agony.
“It’s cramp in his left hamstring but a lot of pain is from disappointment from losing the race. The last three weeks have been hard for him. We hope for the best for him,” Jamaican team doctor Kevin Jones said later.
It was a terrible sight at the Olympic stadium, the theatre of his three gold winning exploits in the 2012 Olympic Games. Bolt went down on his knees with hands on his head in dejection and was then lying alone on the tracks for a while before Blake and the other teammates, Julian Forte and Omar McLeod, gathered around him.
The towering Jamaican, who had dominated the sprint race like nobody else, was helped to his feet. As he limped over the finishing line, the crowd applauded him.
The result sheet, however, showed DNF (Did Not Finish) against the Jamaicans.
The scene this weekend was more heartbreaking than last Saturday when Bolt was beaten by his long-time rival Justin Gatlin in the 100m dash in his last individual race.
The last time, Bolt took a lap of honour to acknowledge the support and adulation of the crowd. But this…