Usain Bolt wins at Anniversary Games at Olympic Stadium
Six-time Olympic champion Usain Bolt produced his season’s best to win the 100m on his return to the Olympic Stadium for the Anniversary Games.
A year on from the London 2012 opening ceremony, Bolt paid his own homage to last year’s Olympics by clinching the blue riband event in 9.85 seconds.
Before a sell-out crowd, the Jamaican ran nine hundredths of a second quicker than he had previously done this year.
Britain’s James Dasaolu pulled out injured before the race.
Bolt got off to a lacklustre start, but the Olympic champion overpowered his rivals in the closing stages to dip across the line three hundredths of a second ahead of America’s Michael Rodgers in second.
Jamaica’s Nesta Carter was third in 9.99 while Dwain Chambers, the only Briton remaining in the race following Dasaolu’s withdrawal, was fifth in 10.10.
Bolt’s major honours
- Olympic gold medals: 6 (2008 Beijing – 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay; 2012 London – 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay)
- World Championship titles: 5 (Berlin 2009 – 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay; Daegu 2011 – 200m and 4x100m relay)
Bolt, who will look to regain the world title in Moscow next month, was happy to lap up the adulation from 60,000 fans.
“It’s so wonderful to compete in London, it’s a brilliant experience to be here again,” he said.
But the world record holder admitted he had work to do ahead of the World Championships.
“My start was poor and I need to work on that,” he added. “To make a perfect race I need to make a good start and just get into the race. Hopefully I can make a good time at Moscow and continue to do well.”
The stadium was hosting an evening of athletics for the first time since last summer, when the likes of Bolt, Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis-Hill whipped the crowd into a frenzy during an unforgettable Olympic Games.
Much has changed in this corner of east London since that glorious sporting summer. The Olympic Park now resembles a building site, and gone is the Olympic flame, but Friday night’s capacity crowd rekindled the spirit of the Games.
For all of the nostalgia, however, it was effectively the first night of a two-day Diamond League meeting, and the last track and field event before the World Championships.
Bolt arrives on rocket
And for all the Olympic talent on display – 12 gold medallists will compete over the two days – it was Bolt, the world’s fastest man, who was the centre of attention on a celebratory evening in the capital.
All eyes were on the 26-year-old for many reasons. The night began with Bolt being transported into the arena in a gigantic metallic vehicle, described as a “rocket ship”.
Such is his box-office appeal – and importance to a sport which is in the doldrums because of drug scandals – Bolt now routinely opens Diamond League events by driving onto the track, but seeing the great sprinter in the sort of contraption more normally found in a sci-fi movie was a first.
Unsurprisingly, a wall of sound greeted Bolt’s arrival, stirring up memories of the thunderous noise which filled the stadium 12 months ago.
The 100m and 200m world record holder stood on top of the machine, dancing on the podium and waving his country’s flag during the lap of honour, exhibiting the showmanship which has made him one of the world’s most recognisable sportsmen.
But the crowd saved their loudest cheers for when Bolt brought the curtain down on an uplifting, albeit sentimental, evening.
“You could tell that Usain Bolt was on it. I don’t think he fears anyone. Technically he had a poor race. He had a terrible start but he knows that people have to run a perfect race, and he can make 10 mistakes and still win.”
Indeed, if there are doubts over the credibility of sprinting following the positive tests of Asafa Powell, Tyson Gay and Sherone Simpson two weeks ago, then the thousands of fans at the Olympic Stadium at least seemed to put such thoughts to one side as they revelled in watching Bolt do what he does best.
British fans will be concerned about the fitness of Dasaolu after the 25-year-old withdrew as a precaution because of a hip injury suffered in the warm-up.
Dasaolu became the second-fastest Briton in history when he ran 9.91 seconds at the British Championship and much anticipation surrounded his appearance alongside Bolt.
The action will continue on Saturday when Ennis-Hill and Farah, two Britons who won gold on Super Saturday, appear on the track where they established themselves on the world stage.
Ennis-Hill has been troubled with an Achilles injury throughout the season but is set to compete in the long jump and 100m hurdles.
Farah will compete in the 3,000m and many have predicted that the double Olympic champion will break David Moorcroft’s long-standing British record.