Usain Bolt could not lose – the 35,000 dancing, roaring, horn-blowing worshippers inside Kingston’s National Stadium would never have allowed it.
Not after the build-up. Not after an ordained minister led a prayer in his honour; not after a procession of dignitaries paid tribute to “the most famous Jamaican of all time”; not after his every gold medal-winning moment was greeted with deafening cheers as they were relived on the big screens; not after he was introduced to the crowd from an open-top car, before walking through a ceremonial brass band onto a red carpet that had been laid on the finishing straight for his feet only; and not after he had departed for his warm-up to the sound of Frank Sinatra’s My Way.
No, there was no way Bolt could lose. And he did not. Jamaica’s favourite son said farewell in his last ever race on home soil with yet another victory on Saturday night.
In honesty, the task was not a difficult one. Some significant massaging of the Racers Grand Prix entry lists had left Bolt facing a host of faded Jamaican sprinting talent in the “Salute To A Legend” 100m race, while the fastest men competing in Kingston – his training partner Yohan Blake and South Africa’s Akani Simbine – were left to their own private battle in the international 100m.
Not that the crowd cared the slightest bit. Bolt’s victory in a pedestrian 10.03sec, after one of his trademark slow starts, was greeted with unbridled, chaotic joy. Fireworks erupted, the blare of horns was relentless and the party began as a stream of dancehall stars took to the field. It was sheer euphoria.