'It was a big deal' - Usain Bolt edges past Justin Gatlin in Beijing to win 100m showdown
Published 23/08/2015 | 14:32
Usain Bolt rode to the rescue of his beleaguered sport once again as he dashed Justin Gatlin's hopes of 100 metres gold at the World Championships in Beijing.
The Jamaican lived up to his billing as the saviour of athletics as he held off the challenge of two-time drug cheat Gatlin to win in 9.79 seconds.
The 33-year-old American, the sport's number one villain, especially in the wake of the doping scandals of recent weeks, had to settle for silver in 9.80secs.
A Gatlin win in its blue-riband event was the result athletics feared and it looked likely after the semi-finals where Gatlin clocked 9.77s and Bolt only scraped a win after an awful start.
But the world record holder, the sport's leading man, the self-styled legend, knows how to deliver when the pressure is really on.
This was his fastest time of the year and the win took his tally of.individual global titles to 10.
American Trayvon Bromell and Canada's Andre de Grasse each took a bronze after posting the same time - 9.911.
Gatlin's return to the top of athletics following a four-year drug ban which expired in 2010 has left many within the sport feeling at best uncomfortable and at worst outraged.
And at a time when its world governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations, is fighting off accusations it has not done enough to combat doping, a Gatlin win would have been one it was dreading.
The 2004 Olympic champion came into the championships at the top of the world rankings, having run 9.74.
Bolt, in contrast, still had to answer questions about his fitness following a pelvic injury earlier in the summer.
He talked a good game last week, and, at the Bird's Nest on Sunday night, the scene of his first triple Olympic triumph, he delivered one.
Bolt told the BBC: "It definitely means a lot because I've been struggling all season.
"It took me a while to discover what was the problem. And it's all held together so I'm just happy.
"I stumbled a little (in the semi), but I had to get back in the rhythm. My coach (Glen Mills) told me to forget about it and that when it came to the right time, I'd get it right.
"It was a big deal."