DAEGU, South Korea — In one whirlwind week, Usain Bolt turned the biggest disappointment of his career into another golden show capped with a world record even he believed was not within him this year.
After opening with a false start in 100 final last Sunday, Usain Bolt again produced the amazing in his closing race of the world championships — anchoring Jamaica to a world record in the 4×100-meter relay.
When the first three runners passed the baton, Bolt seized the moment.
“I said, ‘Why not give my all.’ I kept saying: ‘I can do this. I can do this,”’ he said.
And when Bolt is convinced, the clock usually obliges.
Fittingly, Jamaica’s yellow-green-and-black flag was the last one rising into the night over Daegu Stadium, and Bolt spread his giant arms wide to soak in the occasion.
“For me, it was just to go out there fast,” Bolt said. “We did just that.”
One day after winning gold in the 200, Bolt was devastating down the home stretch of the relay and threw his yellow-clad chest across the line for a time of 37.04 seconds — the only world record in nine days of competition.
“This record was a great achievement,” Bolt said. “I finished the championships on a good note so I’m proud of myself.”
There was none of the performance anxiety that pushed him into a false start in the 100, only a sheer release of power as he coasted down the stretch for an overwhelming win over France and Saint Kitts and Nevis.
He came looking for the same three gold medals he won at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2009 world championships but left with only two and a world record.
The United States was out of it because of a botched exchange, but no one could have gotten close to a Jamaican team anchored by Bolt.
Ahead of the race, Bolt was already slapping the “JAM” on his bib in pride, and in a season where he was far from his best, he came through with a world record.
He got all the help he needed from his three teammates — a lightning start from Nesta Carter and a good handover to Michael Frater before Jamaica’s golden duo was up. Yohan Blake, the 100 champion in Bolt’s absence, powered through the final bend, with Bolt already getting his giant stride going before he took the baton.
Even Carter had no idea the team could do it.
“We weren’t really going out to break the world record,” he said.
Without the injured Asafa Powell, Bolt anchored the team for the first time in a major competition since he took the world by storm at the Beijing Olympics three years ago.
Running with the determination of a record beater, he gritted his teeth over the final meters, crossed the line and threw the glittering purple baton high in the air once he realized the team’s 3-year-old record of 37.10 was gone.
All through the year, Bolt had said that times were not his priority and he never came close to his record best — until Sunday. After he saw Blake speeding toward him, he suddenly realized he could start dreaming about a record again.
“When I saw the first three legs, I said, ‘Anything is possible,’ Bolt said. “I ran my ultimate best.”
Seconds later, the showman took over again. He started dancing to the delight of the 45,000 crowd at Daegu Stadium, which had to wait until the last second to finally see a world record.
In the blur of Bolt’s speed and antics, it was almost overlooked that Blake also left with two gold medals and a world record.
On a final day of seven finals, one silver medal also stood out.
Caster Semenya failed to defend her 800 title, faltering late down the finishing straight to allow Mariya Savinova of Russia get the gold. Silver, however, was better than many expected as the South African showed glimpses of her powerful running that made her the dominating athlete over the distance two years ago, before a gender controversy sidelined her for a year.
“I achieved what I wanted, which was to get back to the podium,” the 20-year-old Semenya said. “I don’t talk about the past. I’m still young and I have to focus on the future.”
Allyson Felix added another gold to bring her collection of titles to a women’s record eight over four championships. The American ran the second leg of the winning 4×100 relay, one day after getting gold in the 4×400, too.
With Christian Taylor winning the triple jump, it left the United States at the top of medal standings with 12 gold and 25 overall.
Tatyana Lysenko won the women’s hammer throw, putting Russia in second place of the standings with nine gold and 19 medals overall.
Britain got some good news ahead of next year’s London Olympics, with Mo Farah holding off Bernard Lagat of the U.S. to win the men’s 5,000. Farah also won silver in the 10,000 last weekend.
It was about the only middle and long distance race that went wrong for Kenya.
From the starting gun to Sunday’s last day, Kenya dominated. On Sunday morning, Abel Kirui led teammate Vincent Kipruto to yet another 1-2 finish in the men’s marathon.
The defending champion won by the biggest margin in championship history, and after finishing the race in 2:07:38, he had to wait 2:28 to welcome Kipruto in a sweaty embrace.
It left Kenya with seven gold and 17 medals overall for third place in the standings.
“This is history,” Kirui said. “It is also good (for) the country. It is good for my family. It is great.”