The roar had nothing to do with Bolt: It was about a surprise British victory.
After Bolt took the baton from his teammate Yohan Blake to run the anchor leg of Jamaica’s 4×100-meter men’s relay, their team was in third place. In years past, that would have been a minor obstacle for Bolt, the greatest sprinter in history. This time, he began to gather speed, only to pull up and shout in pain from what appeared to be a left leg injury about 60 meters from the finish line.
It was hardly the farewell party that Bolt had in mind when he decided to make this meet the final one of his career.
His failure to finish would normally have cast a pall over the rest of the race, but it has been a frustrating meet for Britain, the host country. And with Bolt on the ground and the Jamaicans out of contention, the gold came down to a sprint for the finish between Christian Coleman of the United States and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake of Britain.
The Britons won by five one-hundredths of a second, finishing in 37.47 seconds to the Americans’ 37.52. As the official results flashed on the big screen, the crowd cheered for what was only Britain’s second gold medal of this meet and its first-ever world championship in the men’s 4×100 relay.
Meanwhile, Bolt’s teammates rushed to help him as he lay on the track in the same stadium where he and his countrymen set the world record in this event, 36.84 seconds, at the 2012 Olympics.
Bolt’s Jamaican relay teammates rushed to check on him after he dropped to the track.
Kevin Jones, a doctor with the Jamaican team, said his preliminary diagnosis was that Bolt had suffered an acute muscle cramp in his left hamstring, although Jones could not rule out the possibility of a muscle tear.
“I think a lot of the pain was from disappointment,” Jones said, tapping his heart, “from not being able to finish the race. That was the main thing.”
He said that a slight delay at the start of the race — because of the length of two medal ceremonies preceding it — might have contributed to Bolt’s situation.
The Jamaican sprinters said they had been kept too long in the “call room,” the holding area that serves as a way station between the warm-up track and the main stadium.
“Usain was really cold,” Blake said afterward. “In fact, Usain said to me, ‘Yohan, I think this is crazy, 40 minutes and two medal presentations before our run.’”
Omar McLeod, who ran the first leg for the Jamaican team, also criticized the delay.
“We were really trying our hardest to stay warm and keep upbeat, but it was ridiculous,” he said.