Usain Bolt took aim at the drugs cheats plaguing athletics and blasted: ‘Stop doping or the sport will die’.
The world’s fastest man arrived in London without the slightest doubt that his farewell appearance will add a final golden layer to his legend.
“Unbeatable and unstoppable,” he said. “That will be the headline after the 100 metres. Usain Bolt has retired unbeatable over that event.
“What if I lose? We won’t have that problem, don’t worry about it.”
It was exactly the soundbite his sponsors had banked on when they invited the world’s media in to watch the Bolt ‘show’.
He might have trotted out the tired old line about wanting to play for Manchester United. “I’m waiting on a call from Mourinho. I think he’s waiting for the last day of the transfer window.”But the 30-year-old had matters of greater substance on his mind as he prepared to end his decade-long reign as the saviour of a sport largely discredited by scandal.
And laughed along as Idris Elba, Samuel L Jackson, Thierry Henry, Cara Delevingne and Virat Kohli found different ways to tell him how great he is.
But behind the smiles was a serious side to the serial champion, brought out by questions on Russia’s continued ban for state-sponsored doping and the death of his friend, British Olympic high jumper Germaine Mason.
“You can’t be happy about doping at all,” he said bluntly. “I said a couple of years ago it had to get really bad, where there’s nowhere else to go but up.
“Personally I think it hit rock bottom with the Russia scandal. I don’t think it gets any worse than that.
“But athletes must understand that if they don’t stop what they’re doing the sport will die.”
Death visited Bolt’s world in April when Mason, the 2008 Olympic silver medalist, perished in a late-night motorbike accident in Jamaica.
Bolt was one of the first on the scene and, according to a police spokeswoman, arrived “very, very emotional”.
Four months on and the pain is still raw for an athlete not accustomed to displaying emotions other than joy in public.
“It was a rough time,” he recalled. “I have never had someone who passed away so close to me. It set me back a little bit and I didn’t train for three weeks.”
Finally his close circle of friends interrupted his grieving to tell him that he owed it to Mason to get back into training.
“Germaine was looking forward to coming to your last race and seeing you compete and finish off your legacy,” they told him.
So here he is, back in Britain, about to compete before his favourite set of fans, vowing to complete his golden haul in honour of his departed friend and the family he left behind.
“Come on,” he said. “You guys know if I show up at a championship, if I am here, you know I am fully confident and ready to go.
“My team tell me that for some reason I am the underdog and I have to prove myself once more.
“That’s fine. I have been here many times and I know I am ready. It is go time.”
Source: Alex Spink| Mirror