After months of speculation about Usain Bolt’s fitness, Usain Bolt stormed from behind to whip a high quality, Caribbean-top-heavy men’s 100m field at the London Olympics tonight and set a new Games record of 9.63secs (1.5w), only 5/100th of a second off the world record he clocked at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin.
The double world record holder lost the sprint double at the Jamaica Olympic Trials in May to training partner Yohan Blake, whom he pulled along with him this time for the silver medal, and had no subsequent preparatory going into the Olympics. Blake clocked 9.75, equaling his personal best (PB) which he ran at the Trials, and Justin Gatlin of the US took the bronze in a PB 9.79.
Two hours ahead of the much anticipated final, Bolt signaled that he was in great shape when he ran 9.87 to win his semi-final race against USA’s newest sensation Ryan Bailey, almost trotting the last 50 meters home. Bolt’s time was the slowest of the three winning qualifiers, of whom USA’s Justin Gatlin registered the fastest time at 9.82 followed by Blake’s 9.85.
“I was hoping that I would have gotten him [Gatlin] in my heat because he has been talking a lot,” Bolt said in a post-race interview, noting that the win meant a lot to him, since many people had doubted his ability to repeat.
Completing the field were the US duo of Tyson Gay, 4th in a season best 9.80 and Ryan Bailey, 5th equaling his PB 9.88; Churandy Martina of the Netherlands in 9.94; Richard Thompson, the 2008 Olympic silver medalist, of Trinidad and Tobago in 9.98; and former world record holder Asafa Powell of Jamaica, who aggravated an old groin injury that forced him to jog home last in 11.99.
Bolt and Blake will now focus on the 200m, which begins Tuesday, August 7.