Recent results suggest Australian distance running is in an exciting renaissance phase. Three runners have stood out and recently produced Australian records on the world stage.
Usain Bolt didn’t deserve to end his glittering track career with a bronze at London’s world championships.
For a decade he’d sliced through elite fields like a hot knife through butter.
But yesterday in the final of the 100 meres, Justin Gatlin and Christian Coleman lowered Lightning Bolt’s colours in a slow time.
Gatlin stopped the clock at 9.92 seconds, Coleman 9.94, and Bolt 9.95.
It was one race too many for the greatest track sprinter who ever strapped on spikes.
On 36 occasions Bolt broke 9.95, and his four fastest times – a world record 9.58, 9.63, 9.69, and 9.72 were better than Gatlin’s career-best 9.74.
But not yesterday.
Bolt was the slowest out of the blocks, and the blistering finish went missing in action in a blanket finish.
Usain was just a shadow of his superb self and he’ll regret starting at these championships for the rest of his life.
He’d run his race at the Rio Olympics, claiming three successive 100 and 200-metre golds at the 2008, 2012, and 2016 Olympics.
No-one has ever achieved that feat.
Add three relays for Jamaica as well, and it was a history-making triple-triple gold, until Jamaican drug cheat Nesta Carter tested positive in 2017 from his original samples from the 2008 Olympics.
Bolt, Michael Frater, and Asafa Powell were stripped of their medals – a huge penalty for three innocents – but that’s the rule, and it’s right on the money.
The only other time ‘Lightning’ failed to win gold was his disqualification for breaking at the 2011 world championships.
But track fans will fondly remember the eight Olympic, 11 world championship, and one Commonwealth gold medals, not to mention the charismatic way he breathed life into world athletics.
So it was little wonder the packed London stadium loudly booed Gatlin, a two-time drug cheat who should have been banned for life the second time.
As tennis great Maria Sharapova is finding out, the faithful are unforgiving on drug cheats. The Russian’s comeback trail has been a rough ride – and it will be the same for Gatlin for the rest of his career.
But he couldn’t care less.
His attitude is “just put the gold medal around my neck”.
Usain Bolt didn’t just break world records, he butchered them.
He lowered Asafa Powell’s 100-metre world mark from 9.69 to 9.58, and smashed the ‘unbreakable’ 200-metre record set by Michael Johnson of 19.32 by running the distance in 19.19.
Just as there will never be another Don Bradman, there won’t be another Usain Bolt.
It’s rather ironic but The Don ended his stellar career with a duck, Usain Bolt ended his with a first-time bronze.
Both deserved better finales.