London 2012 Olympics: Usain Bolt back to blistering best as the wins Rome 100 metres showdown in 9.76 seconds
False alarm. No panic. Usain Bolt took precisely 9.76 seconds here to render any faint concerns about his sharpness and form in Olympic summer quite gloriously redundant.
With the most jet-heeled 100 metres of the season, eclipsing the 9.82sec he had recorded in Kingston a month ago, Bolt’s confident assertion that, honestly, we need not worry about him after his dismal run in Ostrava — well, dismal by his peerless standards – could hardly be argued with as he rocketed down the Olympic Stadium track like a blurred red tracer.
He looked just a little piqued, like a man on a mission, after having clocked his slowest ever 100m final as a senior in the Czech Republic. But perhaps that was just a bit of an illusion. “I came out here not to prove anything to the world,” he declared.
I just wanted to tell myself ‘I’ve still got it’.” Oh yes. He has still got it all right. This made you feel ever so slightly daft for ever doubting him. Spurred on by having Europe’s finest Christophe Lemaitre and his brilliant Jamaican compatriot Asafa Powell for company, Bolt was as familiarly electric here as he was so unaccountably sluggish against more mediocre opposition last Friday.
“We are human,” Bolt shrugged, recalling that chilly night. “Things go up and down”.
On this lovely summer’s evening, though, with barely a hint of breeze to ruffle him – the wind gauge read -0.1m per sec – it was up, up and away, a soaring effort which, even though Powell clocked a nifty 9.91sec, saw him once again chasing the giant shadow he can never escape from. Human? Sometimes, Powell cannot believe this.
Bolt’s consummate performance showed just what a decent night’s kip and some decent Roman cuisine can do for a fellow. “I feel slightly relieved but I knew I could do it. After Ostrava I decided I would make sure I started going to bed early. Today I felt extremely well, extremely great.” He certainly looked wide awake to the familiar challenge presented from Powell, who had come so perilously close to beating him at this meeting last year.
Bolt was out of his blocks with much more alacrity than last Friday and instead of having to strain to come through in the last 30 metres and down Kim Collins as he had in Ostrava, he was on terms with the fast-starting veteran from St Kitts and Nevis before half-way and, from there, forged away in time-honoured fashion.
YEAR'S BEST 100M TIMES
9.76 Usain Bolt Jamaica
(May 31, Rome)
9.82 Usain Bolt Jamaica
(May 5, Kingston)
9.84 Yohan Blake Jamaica
(May 9, Cayman Islands)
9.87 Justin Gatlin US
(May 11, Doha)
9.88 Asafa Powell Jamaica
(May 11, Doha)
9.89 Keston Bledman Trinidad
(May 26, Orlando)
9.90 Yohan Blake Jamaica
(April 14, Kingston)
9.91 Asafa Powell Jamaica
(May 31, Rome)
Collins eventually finished in 10.05sec, one hundredth of a second behind Lemaitre, who, though setting a season’s best, was not really at the races.
Powell’s 9.91sec would have been quicker if he had not given up in the final two strides but he could only bemoan what was by his standards a poor start.
Powell’s reaction time was slower than Bolt’s and he claimed: “I didn’t hear the start, I couldn’t hear the gun. I will just go home and come back ready for the next one.” You have to hand it to Powell. He never gives in even though this hammering makes their head-to-head score 10-1 to Bolt.
“People expect me to do well all the time and I expect that of myself but this was just a case of fun and enjoyment,” smiled Bolt. It made you wonder again if the man ever really does feel pressure? An hour before the race he had not exactly looked haunted as he took a golf buggy parade round the stadium, standing and swaying gently to the music in the cart as the cheers rained down.
Meanwhile, there was still no sign of a revival in the moribund British sprinting ranks as three of the men seeking the Olympic A qualifying standard of 10.18sec in the 100 metres again got nowhere near.
The veteran Christian Malcolm clocked 10.37sec while finishing runner-up in the ‘B’ race while Leevan Yearwood was recorded at 10.49secs while finishing fourth in ‘A’ race, still leaving only one British male sprinter, Croydon’s James Dasaolu, with the A mark so far this summer.