by James Matthey
Usain Bolt's glittering career swansong came crashing to an end when he pulled up injured on the anchor leg of the 4x100m relay at the World Championships on Sunday morning (AEST).
Bolt received the baton with Jamaica in third, but halfway down the finishing straight the towering sprinter pulled up clutching his left thigh, eventually doing a forward somersault to the ground, to gasps from the 60,000 watching on at London Stadium.
The British quartet of Chijindu Ujah, Adam Gemili, Daniel Talbot and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake claimed gold in 37.47 seconds, with the Justin Gatlin-led US four taking silver and Japan a surprise bronze.
The result means Bolt, 100 and 200m world record holder, finishes his career with 14 world career medals, one behind American Allyson Felix, to go with eight Olympic golds.
Bolt was attended to by medics but refused a ride in a wheelchair off the track, instead finally getting up and limping alongside his teammates through to the finish line and then off into the bowels of the stadium for treatment.
It was a sad exit for an athlete who has lit up the track when the sport has been dragged through its worst-ever crisis, racked by doping and corruption scandals that went to the very heart of athletics' governing body.
Bolt's teammate Yohan Blake slammed organisers for letting the medal presentation for the women's high jump run overtime, which meant the start of the relay was delayed by roughly 10 minutes.
Blake also said Bolt had a bad feeling before the race about what the delayed start time would mean.
"A hero of the sport to go down like that, as a true friend, I didn't like it one bit," Blake said.
"They were holding us too long.
"To be holding us so long was atrocious.
"Usain was getting cold and he said, 'I don't like this'.
"They were holding us too long.
"Too many presentations so the race was 10 minutes long. It was cold."
Jamaican team doctor Kevin Jones later clarified Bolt suffered from a hamstring cramp, but the physical pain was overshadowed by the emotional anguish.
"It's cramps in his left hamstring but a lot of pain is from the disappointment of losing the race. The last three weeks have been hard for him, we hope for the best," Jones said.
Jones also reiterated Blake's concerns, saying: "It was cold back there, and the guys were complaining."
American Justin Gatlin, who defeated Bolt in the 100m final while relegating him to third, agreed there was a problem with how the race was organised.
"We took (our) clothes off a little too early. Bolt was running out there cold."
Usain Bolt doesn't need to apologise to anyone. He may think he needs to, but his teammates say he doesn't owe anyone - least of all them - anything.
"He didn't tell us exactly what happened but from what I saw, it looked like a strain or a cramp of some sort," second leg runner Julian Forte said.
"He kept apologising to us but we told him there was no need to apologise - injuries are part of the sport."
Newly-crowned 110m hurdles champion Omar McLeod, Jamaica's lead-off runner, added: "Everybody was jelly, everybody was pumped. (Bolt's injury) just happened. Usain Bolt's name will always live on."