Moscow: Usain Bolt is, yet again, perfect. And with three gold medals in Moscow, the Jamaican great became the most successful athlete in the 30-year history of the world championships.
The 4x100-meter relay gold on Sunday erased the memories of the 100 title he missed out on in South Korea two years ago because of a false start. And, in combination with a similar 100-200-4x100 triple from Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Bolt was instrumental in giving Jamaica the first ever sweep in those six sprint events.
The tall Jamaican was trailing Justin Gatlin when he got the baton on the anchor leg, but a botched U.S. handover and his superlative speed were enough to see him, and his country, win.
He gritted his teeth, dipped at the line, and then grinned.
“I wasn't really worried about Justin. I knew if he got the baton in front of me, I could catch him,” Bolt said. “So it was just going out there to run as fast as possible.”
And when he does, nobody has stopped him when it mattered—in a half decade, and counting.
“It's not just about the talent. It's about rising to the occasion. He understands what that means,” Gatlin said.
Bolt had already won the 100 and 200 meters. It was his second such sprint triple at the world championships, matching the two he has won at the Olympics.
With his victory, Bolt moved to the top of the all-time world championships medals table with eight gold and two silver, edging Carl Lewis, who has eight gold, one silver and one bronze.
“It is just great,” Bolt said of the comparison. “I'll continue dominating. I'll continue to work hard. For me, my aim is to continue hard into the greatness thing.”
And again the Luzhniki Stadium and its 40,000 fans were turned into a Bolt party.
With palpable relief after a week of all-business during his earlier races, Bolt finally let go. His arms across his chest, he kicked his legs as he went down lower and lower to imitate a traditional eastern European dance to the delight of the crowd.
“I'm not even sure which country it's from. It just went along with the music, so I did it,” Bolt said.
Twenty minutes earlier, Fraser-Pryce became the first woman in world championship history to sweep the sprint events, anchoring Jamaica to gold in the 4x100 relay.
Unlike Bolt, Fraser-Pryce got the baton with a big lead. With her pink hair extensions swaying in the air behind her, she kept on building on it to cross in a championship record of 41.29 seconds.
Lost in the excitement and a string of upsets was that the United States failed to lead the gold medal standings for the first time since the inaugural world championships in Helsinki 30 years ago.
Instead, Russia topped the table with seven gold, edging the United States and Jamaica with six. In the overall standings, the U.S. team dominated with 25, holding a wide lead over the host nation with 17.
With a middle distance double on Sunday, Kenya secured African domination over neighbor and rival Ethiopia.
Asbel Kiprop of Kenya successfully defended his 1,500 title, trailing teammate Nixon Chepseba for most of the race before emerging into the finishing straight with a devastating kick no one could match.
Matthew Centrowitz of the United States took silver in the hectic sprint finish, just ahead of Johan Cronje of South Africa.
And Eunice Sum won her first major title when she held off Olympic champion Mariya Savinova of Russia at the end to win the women's 800.
Russia hoped it would win another gold in the women's javelin, but defending champion Maria Abakumova disappointed with bronze. Instead, Christina Obergfoell of Germany won her first major javelin title at 31, beating Kimberley Mickle of Australia.
The string of upsets continued in the men's triple jump, where Olympic and defending champion Christian Taylor of the United States finished only fourth. Teddy Tamgho of France edged Pedro Pichardo of Cuba for gold.
Tamgho and Pichardo were even at 17.68 meters late in the contest but Tamgho made the difference on his last jump when he leapt 18.04 for his first world title.