Usain Bolt experienced his first defeat in two years on Saturday after Tyson Gay beat him over 100m at the DN Galan meeting in Stockholm.
The two fastest men in history had only raced each other twice before over 100m — Bolt winning with world records on both occasions. But Gay, who beat the world record holder by a good metre and a half, was quick to play down the win, citing Bolt's injuries as having affected his performance.
"Honestly, deep down inside I know he wasn't 100%, you know, and I'm still looking for the day where we both step on the line 100% and Asafa [Powell] steps on the line too," he said.
Powell was missing with a back injury, a late withdrawal from the line-up intended to showcase the three best sprinters. Meanwhile Bolt has been struggling with a calf injury since pulling out of the New York Diamond League in June. The 23 year-old is still not running 200m races having been advised not to run on the curve.
Stockholm is proving something of a bugbear for Bolt whose last defeat also happened here — against Powell — ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympic. Then the world record holder was also running from lane four, with Powell next to him in lane five, just as Gay was last night. The difference this time around was the much bigger distance between first and second place.
The Jamaican looked rather pedestrian, finishing behind Gay in 9.97 seconds, almost four tenths of a second slower than the record he set in Berlin.
In contrast Gay won with a thrilling run, getting out of the blocks level with Bolt, and then pulling ahead with 40 metres left to race, to win in a new meet record of 9.84sec, the joint fourth fastest time of the year.
"It's a different feeling," said Bolt afterwards. "People always say to me, 'No one can beat you' and I say you can always get beaten it's just about having a good day or bad day, it was just one of those days for me today.
"I need to work on my shape. I got a good start but there was no power, no nothing."
Distractions at the start of the race did not help after the field were twice asked to step out of their blocks because of noise from the crowd.
"I was ready, I was focused but when you're ready you want to run," said Bolt. "It kind of gets annoying, but I can't blame it on that. Tyson was ready, he was in better shape than me, he wanted it more than me."
Afterwards the two sprinters embraced, but it was noticeable that Gay did not openly relish the victory.