Rome, Italy – World record holder Usain Bolt despite a very poor start came through his first competition for nine months when winning over 100 metres at the Compeed Golden Gala, the third stop on the Samsung Diamond League series in Rome tonight (26).
The world’s fastest man despite being the third last sprinter in the nine man field to emerge from his blocks, quickly regained his posture to speed down the track of the 1960 Olympic Stadium and win in a time of 9.91 seconds (+0.6sec wind).
At one stage it looked as if the reigning World and Olympic gold medallist would come a cropper as Asafa Powell, the man who preceded him as World record holder, opened what looked like a winning gap.
But Bolt, 15 metres from the finishing line, suddenly turned on the gas and with an electrifying burst got alongside his fellow Jamaican and then passed him.
Powell, seemingly gasping for breath close to the finish line, clocked a season’s best of 9.93sec, as did France’s European champion Christophe Lemaitre who ran 10 seconds dead for third.
Bolt’s late surge brought him home just 0.02sec away from the current 9.98 world season lead held by Steve Mullings, another athlete from his country’s highly talented pack of sprinters.
“I got through my first race I was so nervous,” said a very relieved Bolt. “I got a bad start and then kind of started to panic.”
Fortunately on the credit side Bolt showed no signs of the Achilles or back injury which caused him to abandon his season as a precautionary measure after his defeat at the hands of Gay in Stockholm last August.
The 24-year-old whose top priority is defending his IAAF World Championships crowns in Daegu in three months’ time, believes after a few tweaks he can attain that ambition.
“But I am getting there,” he said of his pre-event intention of ‘getting back into business’. “My coach will analyse the race – I was not proud of the race.”
Bolt with a huge crowd watching his return and who thoroughly enjoyed his ‘showboat entertainment’ added: “This is my first time in Rome and I appreciated the reaction of the crowd.”
But he left the stadium a relieved man after only catching Powell with his last gasp attack. “Well I guess for him it was different because he had already started his season,” Bolt said. “He was already IN the season. Unlike me.”
Dave Martin for the Samsung Diamond League