Bolt smashes 100m benchmark to set worlds alight
By Luke Phillips
BERLIN, Germany (AFP) — Jamaican Usain Bolt added the world crown to his Olympic title as he scorched to victory in a world record 9.58 seconds in the men’s 100m final at the World Athletics Championships here on Sunday.
Billed as the first of three potential Berlin duels between Bolt and American reigning world champion Tyson Gay, the 22-year-old show-boating Jamaican crushed the field and smashed his own record of 9.69sec set in similarly spectacular fashion at the Beijing Olympics final.
Gay claimed silver in 9.71sec, finishing a good couple of metres off Bolt, with former world record holder Asafa Powell of Jamaica clocking 9.84sec for bronze.
Jamaica’s Usain Bolt celebrates winning the men’s 100m final race of the 2009 IAAF Athletics World Championships ahead of US Tyson Gay and Jamaica’s Asafa Powell in Berlin. AFP PHOTO
"I said anything could happen and it did," said Bolt. "It was a big target but I got 9.58sec and I’m really happy with myself. Now I plan to do even better in the future.
"I was ready, I was feeling good after the semi-finals. I came out and executed it in the final."
Gay was magnanimous in defeat.
"I’m really happy with my performance," said the 27-year-old. "I showed a lot of heart. I didn’t complain about my groin injury. I blocked everything out in the final and put it together the best I could.
"I’ve been telling you someone can run 9.5sec. I’m really happy he did it.
"It shows a human being can take it to the next level. Unfortunately, I wasn’t the one to do it but I still have confidence I will do it one day."
Bolt, who took the Beijing Games by storm last summer, winning all three Olympic sprint golds and all in world record times, had overcome a nervy semi-final in which he false started for the first-ever time in his career.
But when it came to the final, he enjoyed his normal start, his head staying down over the first 40 metres before slowly bringing his towering 6ft 5in frame fully upright and lengthening out his stride to attain maximum velocity.
After having enraptured the crowd with his trademark bow-and-arrow posing before starter’s orders, his pull was exemplary and he was soon away from Gay – who had a marginally better reaction time – and his other rivals and celebrating another new world record.
In sultry conditions at the Olympic Stadium, with a temperature of 28C (82F), Bolt’s training partner Daniel Bailey of Antigua finished in fourth at 9.93sec on a photo finish with Trinidad’s Olympic silver medallist Richard Thompson.
Dwain Chambers, the world indoor 60m silver medallist who is competing here after having served a two-year doping ban, came in sixth with 10.00sec.
Trinidadian Marc Burns and American Darvis Patton, who finished seventh and eighth, in the Beijing Olympics repeated their places here in 10.00 and 10.34sec respectively.
Powell said: "To come here and get third place I feel very proud."
For Gay and the rest of the US team, there now lies in wait a highly-anticipated 200m run-off and a 4x100m relay against Bolt and his Jamaican team-mates over the coming week.