LONDON - Usain Bolt's farewell appearance at the world championships ended in painful and disastrous fashion as he pulled up injured on the final leg of the men's 4x100m relay on Saturday.
Bolt took the baton for Jamaica in third place but within a few strides he had fallen to the ground, clutching his left leg, as host Britain secured a shock gold ahead of a United States (US) team containing Justin Gatlin.
The 30-year-old Bolt, beaten into third in the individual 100m behind Gatlin and his US team compatriot Christian Coleman, was comforted by teammates after getting to his feet, his face etched in pain.
The capacity crowd in the London Stadium was still digesting the shock earlier defeat for home hero Mo Farah in the men's 5,000m final, before the drama of Bolt's last agonizing appearance.
He had been bidding for a 12th world championship gold to bring down the curtain on his glittering career, but instead limped out of the London Stadium arena.
Victory for the British quartet of CJ Ujah, Adam Gemili, who ran a storming second leg, Daniel Talbot and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake was stunning compensation for Farah's earlier defeat.
They won in 37.47 seconds, with the US taking silver at 0.05sec and Japan with a surprise bronze.
For his massive global following, the perfect script would have seen the Bolt of old running down Britain and the US for yet another gold, but it was not to be.
"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 apologizing to us but we told him there was no need to apologize -- injuries are part of the sport," teammate Julian Forte told IAAF radio.
Jamaican team doctor Dr Kevin Jones told AFP that Bolt had suffered from "cramp in his left hamstring".
"The last three weeks have been hard for him, you know. We hope for the best for him," he added.
Jamaica's 110m hurdles champion Omar McLeod, who ran the first leg for the quartet, summed up the feeling of everyone.
"Usain Bolt's name will always live on," he said.
But another teammate, Yohan Blake, who won Olympic relay gold with Bolt in 2012 and 2016, slammed organizers for the delay in starting the race because of medal ceremonies.
"Usain was really cold. In fact Usain said to me, 'Yohan, I think this is crazy'," he said.