Usain Bolt after winning the 100m at the IAAF World Championships Moscow 2013 (Getty Images) © Copyright
Feature Moscow, Russia

Sprint king Bolt has his World title back

Sore legs or not, Jamaica’s Usain Bolt was not about to let the IAAF World Championships 100m title slip away again Sunday night at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium.

A false start at the 2011 World Championships had left Bolt with the only championship blemish to his illustrious career, since his rise to superstardom started at the 2008 Olympic Games.

For two years the man who has everything - fame, World records and Olympic gold medals - had to wait for a chance at redemption.

He pushed his lanky body out of the starting blocks with no miscue this time.

Other runners were faster away, and US sprinter Justin Gatlin still had the lead two-thirds of the way into the race, Bolt would be the one to cross the finish line first.

"It feels great to regain my title," he said after clocking his fastest time of the year, 9.77, to defeat Gatlin, who finished second in 9.85 with Jamaica’s Nesta Carter third in 9.95.

"I gave it away the last time, so for me to come out here to regain my title. I was very happy and very pleased with myself."

He was never worried about retaking the World title he first won with what still remains the World record of 9.58 at Berlin 2009.

Legs hurting

"I wanted to come here to run as fast as possible," Bolt said, "but after the semi-finals my legs did not feel up to it.

"They're sore, but I am going to get them worked on tonight so I don't have this problem in the 200m."

He will tackle that event as well, beginning on Friday, then try to silence the whispers about Jamaica maybe being a little soft in the 4x100m relay with 2011 World 100m champion and double Olympic sprint silver medallist Yohan Blake out with an injury.

Two more golds would bring him equal with retired Americans Carl Lewis and Michael Johnson as the most prolific title winners in World championship history. Each has eight.

Bolt swept to triple gold - and three World records –at the 2009 World Championships and added titles in the 200m and 4x100m Relay in Daegu.

Overall, he has 12 Olympic and world titles.

A living legend

Truly the sport's number one attraction, he has blended athletic prowess with a knack for showmanship to build a brand unsurpassed in athletics.

"A legend," he proclaimed himself after triple gold at the London 2012 Olympic Games. "I'm the greatest."

After all, no other man has crossed the finish line first in two successive Olympic Games 100m and 200m. (Carl Lewis was retrospectively awarded the second of his two 100m titles after the disgraced Ben Johnson was disqualified.)

Many thought the former World Junior 200m champion would be the next great 400m runner, but an unusual wager with his coach Glen Mills enabled Bolt to begin seriously experimenting with the 100m in 2007.

The savvy Mills reluctantly agreed to allow his pupil to run the short sprint if Bolt would break Donald Quarrie's Jamaican 200m record, which he did in 2007.

Doubters still wondered if the tall Bolt, who stands 1.96m, could ever propel his long legs out of the blocks with enough quickness to take full advantages of his track-gobbling strides.

Somehow Mills and Bolt figured it out and the World records began to fall.

Spectacular runs

Three times he has taken the 100m world record to new lows, climaxed by his stunning run of 9.58 seconds on the lightning quick blue track of the 2009 Berlin IAAF World Championships.

Perhaps even more spectacular was his 200m run a few days later. An all-out effort dropped the 200m world record to a mind-boggling 19.19.

Both World records remain on the books, but Blake twice defeated Bolt at the 2012 Jamaican Olympic trials, and there has even been a 100m loss to Gatlin this year.

 Yet when global championships come to the forefront, "he takes competition at big occasions very serious," said Mills.

Neither his rivals, nor thunderstorms, could deny him Sunday night; and although it has been four years since his sprint world records, the former 100m record holder Maurice Greene said never doubt Bolt's ability to go there again.

"I don't think he is in that type of shape now," said Greene. "He has had some injury problems since those records and a lot more people demand his time, so things change. But you never can say he cannot get back into that shape because he has been there before."

A many of many words, the outspoken Greene needed only one to describe Bolt: "Great."

Gene Cherry for the IAAF