Friday, June 29, 2012

Bolt cruises through Olympic trial debut

Usain Bolt survived another false start scare and showed minimal effort in coasting into the semi-final of the men's 100m on the opening day of the Jamaica Olympic trials in Kingston on Thursday night.

A chorus of mumbles rippled across the half-filled stadium when the double Olympic champion's race was called back after a false start, evoking memories of the world championships in Daegu last year. Much to the relief of the 4,500 spectators on hand, however, when the red card was issued it was to Ainsley Waugh and not to Bolt.

In the end the sprinter clocked a comfortable 10.06, exploding from the blocks and, as expected, pulling clear of an inferior field. Jaques Harvey was second in 10.15, while Mario Forsythe also booked his place in Friday's semi-finals with a time of 10.18. Bolt has been in impressive form so far this season, clocking a season best 9.76 to lead all competitors in the 100m event. If there is a chink in the armour of the sprinter, however, it remains his start, which he has opened stated a desire to improve.
The sprinter lost his title to training partner Yohan Blake at the 2011 World Championship in Korea, after false starting in that final. On both occasions this season, although registering impressive times (9.76 in Rome and 9.79 in Oslo), Bolt was forced to chase compatriot Asafa Powell from behind.

It was the performance of Blake, however, that was the highlight of the first day's proceedings. The sprinter, known as 'The Beast' in athletics circles for his furious training ethic, clocked 10.00 flat in a competitive heat, but in a manner that suggested there could be fireworks from the powerfully built sprinter in store for the semi-final and finals (1.25am and 3.25am BST Saturday).

Blake, who has struggled with his start in recent outings, had no such issues on Thursday, blasting from the blocks to glide seamlessly down the track, effortlessly holding a competitive field at bay. Rising sprint star Kemar Bailey-Cole (10.12) was second and former national champion Oshane Bailey (10.26) was third.

A stellar showdown looms between Blake and Bolt - teammates at the Racers club and both coached by Glenn Mills - not only over 100m but over the longer 200m distance as well, where the athletes remain the two fastest athletes ever over the distance. Other than his training partner the world's fastest man will also be looking a bit further over his shoulder following the recent USA Trials, where the American duo of Tyson Gay and a rejuvenated Justin Gatlin have vowed to return the United States to the pinnacle of world sprinting.

With only the top three athletes securing a spot for the London Olympics, the 100m race is not likely to be a stroll in the park for the duo, who must also be aware of the former world record holder Asafa Powell. Powell also looked in good form yesterday, and along with his MVP team-mates Nesta Carter and Michael Frater along with Lerone Clarke could pose a danger, having all broken the 10-second barrier.

Powell, who was the most warmly received athlete by the Jamaican crowd, while finishing second in his heat to Carter, with the same exact time of 10.19, looks likely to secure a spot in the top three. Powell exploded from the blocks in typical fashion, but took his foot off the gas at around the 50 metre mark.

"It was a good run. I just wanted to get the first four strides out of the way and I did that. I got to the 20 metre mark quite easily and I was quite pleased with that," Powell said following the race. "It felt good to know the support of the crowd was there I just didn't want to disappoint them."

Nicholas Watson secured the last semi-final spot in that heat clocking a time of 10.23. In the day's other quarter-final it was veteran sprinter Michael Frater, who will have a very slim chance at an appearance at another Olympic Games, who was the class act of the field. Frater finished first in a time of 10.09, well ahead of Lerone Clarke 10.15 and Kenroy Anderson 10.24, who were second and third.

source guardian