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Saturday, August 4, 2012

Usain Bolt advances to 100 semifinals - London Olympics 2012

Bolt. Countryman and chief rival Yohan Blake. Former world recordholder Asafa Powell. Second-fastest man ever Tyson Gay. Athens Olympic champ Justin Gatlin.

They all advanced Saturday, highlighting an electric morning at London's Olympic Stadium.

Oh, and this — the track is "stupid fast," Bailey said.

"Stupid, crazy, fast," Gatlin elaborated.

So, Round 1 of one of the greatest shows at the Olympics — the men's 100 meters — is over, and excitement builds in anticipation of Sunday's semifinals and final, 9:50 p.m. London time.
There were no surprises, other than perhaps the fact that Bolt, the Jamaican world recordholder at 9.58 seconds, ran more than a half-second off that pace — 10.09 — while Bailey, 23, of Tualatin, Ore., was faster than anyone, tying his personal best of 9.88 seconds.

Bolt, who is 6-5, won his pedestrian heat, stumbling out of the blocks, then accelerating comfortably and using his incomparably long stride to pass all of his competitors, then easing off before the finish line.

"My reaction at the start was good, but I stumbled," Bolt said, smiling. "I'm glad it happened now.

"I'm running well. I'm happy. Training is great. I'm looking forward to the semifinals tomorrow."

Gatlin ran the second-fastest time of the day — 9.97 — and was clearly feeling great about being back at the Olympics. He won the 100 in the 2004 Games, then was busted for doping and served a four-year suspension.

"Magic," he said about being back on track's biggest stage. "It feels great. I had a couple of tears.

"Winning in '04 was a dream. A lot of people didn't expect me to win. I was even less than a dark horse. … To come back here and have my fans rooting for me, I want to go out there and put on a great show for them.

"To me, it's not a goal this time. It's more of a mission. I want to go out there and complete the mission."

To complete that mission necessitates having no fear of Bolt, Gatlin said.

"He looked good. He looked like Bolt," he said. "When you're 6-5, you're able to take fewer strides. But I don't think anything's scary or intimidating out there. He's doing the same things we do."

Gatlin conceded it's difficult not to fear the world's fastest man.

"He's the equivalent of a guy walking on the moon for the first time," Gatlin said. "He's done something that no one's ever done. You have to line up shoulder to shoulder with this guy, and you're going to be in awe sometimes.

"I think a lot runners almost have that audience mentality to see what he's going to do even while you're running. You have to block that out."

Blake, 22, who beat Bolt in the 100 and the 200 at the Jamaican Olympic trials and has the fastest 100 mark this year — 9.75 — won his heat in 10.00 and breezed through the interview area without stopping.

Gay's personal best of 9.69 is faster than anyone in history besides Bolt, but he hasn't approached that time this season in his comeback from 2011 hip surgery. He ran easy and relatively slow — 10.08.

"I didn't feel any pain," Gay said. "I didn't want to run any faster. I did what I wanted to do, ran hard for 60-70 meters and then backed off."

Bailey said he feels absolutely no pressure whatsoever because no one is expecting him to do anything.

"If I can steal a medal, great," he said.