After a week that has brought shock upsets, controversy and typically wet British weather, this year’s World Athletics Championships were finally treated to the spectacle it so desperately craved and needed: that of Great Britain storming to a surprise gold medal in the men’s 4x100m relay final on Saturday night.
It was a result nobody expected and one that overshadowed Usain Bolt’s final track appearance, which ended in agony after the Jamaican pulled up with an injury on the final straight.
But while the image of the eight-time Olympian collapsed on the track nursing his calf, long after the race had finished, certainly made for an unwelcome sight, it was a night to remember for Great Britain’s golden quartet.
Danny Talbot, Adam Gemili, Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake and CJ Ujah ran a collective time of 37.47 seconds to beat favourites USA to first place and claim gold – their first since Athens 2004.
USA took silver in 37.52secs while Japan claimed bronze.
“This is the best feeling in the world, world champions,” said Gemili, overlooked for individual selection for the championships.
“We’re world champions, world champions,” Mitchell-Blake added through tears of happiness.
It was the 23-year-old from London who anchored his team to victory, pipping USA to victory on the finishing line with a well-timed dip of the head, after Britain had executed their race to perfection in the outer lanes.
It took some time before Britain’s victory was confirmed, leaving the London Stadium in a state of frenzied anticipation, but once it was the 56,000-strong arena was sent into delirium.
As he roared with delight, Mitchell-Blake’s celebrations recalled to mind Mark Lewis-Francis’ cries of delight when he crossed the line at the 2004 Athens Olympics to earn Britain sprint relay gold.
The tale since then for Britain has been one of missed chances and baton blunders. But no more, and the joy amongst the team was evident at the finish.
For Bolt and Jamaica, it was a tale of disappointment on a night that was meant to bid a golden farewell to the sport’s superstar.
The 30-year-old pulled up on the home straight as he sought to chase down the United States and Britain, hobbling for a few strides before falling to the track.
His team-mates gathered round him and the 19-time global champion was helped to his feet and limped over the line, applauding the crowd as he did so.
Such a sight failed to dampen the spirits of the predominantly British crowd, though, who were treated to a late rush of medals on Saturday evening following a week of missed medals.
After Mo Farah clinched silver earlier in the evening in his 5,000m final, Britain’s women’s 4x100m relay team similarly placed second in what was another surprise result for the hosts.
Asha Philip, Desiree Henry, Dina Asher-Smith and Daryll Neita ran a time of 42.19 seconds to finish behind gold-winners USA.
“We’ve smashed it. We worked so hard for this. Us girls and boys have both done so well and we’re so proud of each other,” Neita said afterwards.
For Farah, it was a night of mixed emotion. Despite failing to defend his 2015 title, the Briton remained in high spirits as he reflected on his “incredible journey”.
“It’s been amazing,” he said. “It’s been a long journey but it’s been incredible. It doesn’t quite sink in until you compete here and cross the line – I had a couple of minutes to myself – that this is it.”