BEIJING – After two years of uncertainty, Usain Bolt produced his biggest clutch performance to beat rival Justin Gatlin in the 100-meter world championship final with a lunge at the line in the biggest showdown in years.
Bolt was trailing for almost all of Sunday's race, but with gritted teeth, the two-time Olympic champion clawed back into contention and made his giant stride count to win in 9.79 seconds — .01 seconds over the American veteran.
Rising to the occasion as he always does, Bolt put a shockingly bad semifinal heat behind him to recover with a good start. Two lanes to his right, Gatlin was as good as perfect for most of the race, but for seven years now, there is no denying the greatest sprinter in history.
Going even just ahead of the line, Bolt glanced left from to Gatlin in Lane 7 and threw his weight forward in a desperate lunge. His yellow-colored Jamaica jersey crossed marginally ahead the red-clad Gatlin for his third world title in the 100.
Bolt kept on powering along in celebration, and when he returned, Gatlin gave him a warm hug. At 33, Gatlin had been unbeaten for two years as Bolt struggled with injury. But on the biggest of occasions, time was with Bolt again.
In a dead heat for third, Trayvon Bromell of the United States and Andre De Grasse of Canada shared bronze in 9.911 seconds.
Soon, the reggae was blaring through the public address system at the Bird's Nest and Bolt was performing his signature Lightning Bolt move.