Radio Sandwell Sport

Usain Bolt wins 100m at Anniversary Games

2013-07-26 23:50:09

Usain Bolt

Six-time Olympic champion Usain Bolt produced a 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 done this year.

Britain's James Dasaolu withdrew injured before the race.

The Olympic 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 60,000 capacity crowd rekindled the Olympic spirit, and the feel-good factor returned mainly thanks to the appearance of Bolt.

For all of the nostalgia, however, the night was effectively the first of a two-day Diamond League meeting, the last track and field event before next month's World Championships in Russia.

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 seen 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 formidable-looking machine, dancing on top of 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.

That moment of razzmatazz alone from one of the sport's greats was perhaps reason enough to justify chancellor George Osborne granting a tax exemption for every overseas athlete competing this weekend.

But the crowd saved their loudest cheers for when Bolt brought the curtain down on an uplifting, albeit sentimental, evening.

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 lift the sport out of the doldrums.

During the build-up to the evening, the sprinter admitted he had been below par this season, with 9.94 seconds being his quickest time over the distance before his performance at the Olympic Stadium.

But despite a lacklustre start, the Olympic champion overpowered his rivals to dip home 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 Brit remaining in the race following Dasaolu's withdrawal, was fifth in 10.10 seconds.

Chambers later described the Jamaican as "phenomenal" while the man himself admitted he had work to do ahead of Moscow.

"My start was poor and I need to work on that," he said.

"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 celebrations 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.


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