Usain Bolt muscles his way to victory in London
Usain Bolt has been beset by injuries over the past two months which have forced him to pull out of important competitions in the prelude to the world athletics championships in Beijing in August. Doubts were rising that he would not be ready to defend the sprint crowns won at the world championships in Moscow in 2013. His riposte has been swift.
Reports of his demise have clearly been exaggerated. Bolt reacquainted the world of sprinting with his potency on Friday night with a 9.87 dash to claim the 100 metres at the Anniversary Games in London.
Michael Rodgers from the United States was second and Bolt’s fellow Jamaican Kemar Bailey-Cole was third. The French hopeful Jimmy Vicaut finished fifth in 9.98 seconds.
The race was Bolt’s first competitive outing since a laboured victory over 200 metres in New York on 13 June. In April he clocked 10.12 over 100 metres in Rio de Janeiro.
And the 28-year-old inspired a carnival atmosphere in east London on a soggy night. He was driven around the track on the back of a convertible classic sports car to be introduced to the 40,000 spectators who had braved the driving rain to attend the first day of the two-day Diamond League meeting.
Inevitably, before his heat and the final, there were the trademark gestures to the fans who roared in approval. They cheered his every stride in the race and splashed out the love once he had crossed the line.
Of course, success and adulation in London aren’t unfamiliar to Bolt. It was on this track three years ago that he became the first man to complete a double Olympic sprint double.
After electrifying the Bird’s Nest stadium at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 to claim the 100 and 200 metres, he pulled off what countless others had failed to do. He retained his Olympic titles. He then promptly anointed himself ‘a living legend’ and embarked on a spat with Jacques Rogge, the president of the International Olympic Committee who regarded such self-aggrandizement as inappropriate.
Bolt, never a shrinking violet, reminded Rogge of his world records and unparalleled achievements over the sprint distances. The Swiss eventually conceded that the Jamaican had a point.
Three years on from those skirmishes and Bolt’s goal is to add to his collection of eight golds and two silvers garnered from world championship meetings since 2007 in Osaka, Berlin, Daegu and Moscow.
More titles in Beijing – the city where the legend started to unfold – would be golden symmetry.
Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morningSubscribe