ZAGREB World record holder Usain Bolt won the 100 meters dash at an IAAF World Challenge event on Tuesday in a personal season's best time of 9.85 seconds on a hot and humid evening in Croatia's capital.
Having been disqualified following a false start at the world championships in Daegu, South Korea, last month, Bolt was eager to redeem himself for missing out on the opportunity to retain the title he won at the 2009 event in Berlin.
But Bolt had to work hard to finish ahead of 2011 world bronze medalist Kim Collins, who kept up with the towering Jamaican until the final 10 meters and pushed him all the way to the finish line.
Bolt was immediately swarmed by fans looking for autographs and was escorted across the terraces by security officials as he received a standing ovation from 12,000 fans in the Mladost track and field sports complex located on the banks of Sava river.
"Personally, I felt I could have done a little bit better because it was a really poor start and I kind of lost concentration after the start," Bolt told a news conference.
"I was expecting a better start and I think I could have done better, especially with the weather like this because the conditions were good."
Bolt was slow out of the blocks and the grimace on his face when he crossed the finish line left no doubt he had to dig deep to finish ahead of Collins, who finished in 10.01 seconds, while Richard Thompson of Trinidad and Tobago came third in 10.03.
World champion Carmelita Jeter of the United States won the women's 100m sprint in 11.00 seconds, ahead of Schillonie Calvert of Jamaica (11.13) and Bulgarian Ivet Lalova (11.33).
Calvert then sprung the surprise of the evening when she set a personal best of 22.55 seconds to win the women's 200m ahead of compatriot Sherone Simpson, who clocked in at 22.95.
Home favorite Blanka Vlasic had to settle for a runners-up finish in the women's high jump behind world champion Anna Chicherova of Russia, with both clearing the bar at 2.00 meters but the latter needing fewer attempts.
"Under the circumstances I am pleased with the result and it was important for me to clear two meters today, I think it will be difficult for me to improve on that this season," Vlasic said.
"I am delighted the fans were treated to a spectacular meet here because I practically grew up in this stadium."
(Editing by Pritha Sarkar)