— Mike Griffith (@MikeGriffith32) August 12, 2017
Tennessee’s Christian Coleman was en route to holding off Usain Bolt on the anchor leg of the 400-meter relay Saturday at the IAAF World Championships, but he wasn’t fast enough to stay ahead of Great Britain.
Great Britain’s Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake chased down Coleman in the final 20 meters to close a 37.47-second gold-medal performance, as Team USA had to settle for the silver medal with a time of 37.52.
Coleman and Bolt took their batons simultaneously, and Coleman was pulling away from the Jamaican superstar in what Bolt has said will be his final race.
But then Bolt suddenly pulled up with an apparent injury that left him writhing on the track.
Mitchell-Blake, meanwhile, surged in the outside line and crossed the line just ahead of Coleman, leaving the 21-year-old Atlanta native in despair after the race.
“I wasn’t sure if I had won or not, I gave it my all but I could see Christian Coleman out of the corner of my eye,” Mitchell Blake said in a BBC.com story. “The feeling of euphoria was from infinity. I can’t register it. We smashed the British record to pieces.”
It certainly brought to mind the advice Bolt had given Coleman earlier at the world championships, when he told him he had to close races better.
Coleman, mild-mannered and soft-spoken off the track, was demonstrative with his disappointment as the London crowd cheered their heroes wildly.
Fellow former Tennessee track champion Justin Gatlin ran the second leg of the relay for the U.S., and Gatlin did his job once taking the baton from leadoff Mike Rodgers, closing the gap.
Team USA’s Jaylen Bacon, the third leg, had a clean exchange with Coleman and the Americans seemed on their way to a gold medal.
Gatlin spoke leading up to the race about the added motivation after the disappointment at the Rio Olympics.
“You come across the line in Rio, and you have the flag and you’re doing your victory lap, and next thing you know someone in the stands tells you too look at the big screen and you see a big DQ,” Gatlin said on NBC’s live streaming of the event.
“It gets to the point where it kind of fuels you — you don’t want to let down your country anymore.”
After the race, BBC.com posted an update on Bolt’s ailment:
Jamaica’s Julian Forte speaking to IAAF radio about team-mate Usain Bolt’s injury: “He didn’t tell us exactly what happened but from what I saw, it looked like a strain or a cramp of some sort.
“He kept apologising to us but we told him there was no need to apologise – injuries are part of the sport.”
CJ Ujah, Adam Gemili and Danny Talbot ran the first three legs for Great Britain