Usain Bolt is the fastest man to ever live. His record speaks for itself — Bolt is 8-0 at the Olympics in gold medal races, has won a gold at the World Championships 11 times, and boasts the world record in both the 100 and 200 meters. While plenty of athletes are described as “dominant,” there aren’t many who can say their careers have been as consistently great as Bolt.
But all good things must come to an end, and at the Track and Field World Championships in London this year, Bolt decided to compete one last time before sprinting off into the sunset. There was just one problem: Unlike past years where he was the clear-cut best runner in the field, he ran the risk of getting caught in 2017.
Unfortunately for Bolt, that’s exactly what happened — he ended up taking home the bronze in the 100 meters, marking the first time he hasn’t won gold or silver in the race. Coming in with a time of 9.95, Bolt lost to a pair of Americans: Former Olympic gold medalist Justin Gatlin (9.92) and up-and-coming star Christian Coleman (9.94). Gatlin is controversial for his past performance-enhancing drug use, while Coleman had the fastest time heading into the final and was viewed as the heir to Bolt’s throne and handed the legendary sprinter his first loss in the race since 2013 in the semi-finals.
As you can guess by their times, it was as thrilling of a final as you could imagine.
After the race, the internet decided to shower Bolt with praise to mark the end of his career.
Puma, Bolt’s longtime sponsor, pulled a similar move to Gatorade and released a video to honor him.
Gatlin even decided to pay his respects to Bolt after the race, as he dropped to one knee and bowed down to the greatest of all time.
SportsCenter paid tribute by posting its old “This Is SportsCenter” commercial where Bolt clocks in to work, leaves the screen for a few seconds, comes back, and clocks out.
There is some good news for those who missed this race: Bolt with take to the starting block one final time as part of a relay on August 12.
And if people have something of a sour taste in their mouths from how his individual career ended, here’s a reminder that fairytale endings don’t always happen, even to the greatest athletes to ever live.
Despite going down in his final race, it really is amazing that Bolt was just so much better than everyone else for so long. The three fastest times ever recorded in the 100 meters all belong to Bolt, and on the list of the all-time fastest races ever, his name appears a ton. The same thing applies for the list of the best performances in the 200 meters, another race where Bolt holds the world record.
The fairytale ending to Bolt’s career that everyone wanted didn’t happen, but that doesn’t mean he’s anything other than the greatest sprinter ever.