Usain Bolt said he was “saying goodbye to everything” and “almost cried” as his successful career came to a close at the World Championships in London.
Eight-time Olympic gold medallist Bolt, 30, is retiring from athletics having illuminated the sport like few others.
“It’s really sad that I have to walk away now,” said the Jamaican, who completed a lap of honour of London Stadium on Sunday’s closing night.
“I was saying goodbye to the fans and saying goodbye to my events also.”
When asked if he would consider a return to racing, he replied: “I’ve seen too many people retire and come back just to make it worse or to shame themselves.
“I won’t be one of those people.”
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It meant the 19-time global champion, recently described by Lord Coe as “a genius” akin to boxing legend Muhammad Ali, bowed out in unfamiliar fashion – helped off the track by his team-mates, barely able to stand upright.
“For me, I don’t think one championship is going to change what I’ve done,” he added.
“I remember after losing the 100m, someone said to me, ‘Usain, no worries, Muhammad Ali lost his last fight also, so don’t be stressed about that’.
“I’ve proven myself year in, year out, throughout my whole career. I was saying goodbye to everything. I almost cried. It was close, but it didn’t come.”
Bolt to Manchester United?
There may be one last chance to see Bolt in action.
Talks between Bolt and Manchester United have taken place over a number of months about the Jamaican playing some part in a legends game with Barcelona at Old Trafford on 2 September.
His appearance in the match could depend on his injury recovery.
Bolt is a lifelong United fan and last year he called the club’s in-house TV station MUTV to praise the team’s performance against Middlesbrough, although the presenters were unaware who they were speaking to.