LONDON, Aug 13: A sentimental Justin Gatlin hailed Usain Bolt as an �amazing showman� whose career would certainly not be defined by him pulling up with cramp in the world 4x100m relay, the Jamaican�s final competitive race.
There was high drama in last night�s relay as anchor man Bolt received the baton in third place behind eventual gold medallists Britain and runners-up America.
Less than 50 metres down the track, Bolt suddenly pulled up, clutching his left leg, tumbling to the track with what was later diagnosed as a hamstring cramp.
�This is farewell time, I am sentimental about it already now,� said Gatlin, who stormed to 100m gold in London, US teammate Christian Coleman taking silver to relegate Bolt to a disappointing bronze in his individual send-off.
�In the warm-up area we give ourselves respect and greet each other,� Gatlin said of Bolt, who bows out of competition with a startling haul of eight Olympic gold medals and 14 world medals, nine of which are gold.
Gatlin, who has served two doping bans, put the blame for Bolt�s cramp partly at the amount of time the athletes spent on the track before the starter�s gun went off.
�There was a cool breeze out there. But the conditions were the same for everybody,� said the 35-year-old, who won the 100m at the 2004 Olympics in Athens and the 2005 worlds in Helsinki before serving his second ban between 2006-10 for taking testosterone.
�I think it was the elements. I am sorry he got this injury. He is still the best in the world.
�It was a recipe. I don�t want to say this but 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.�
But Gatlin, who was roundly booed at the London Stadium before both the 100m and relay, insisted: �Usain Bolt is a great athlete. � AFP