LONDON (Reuters) - A race-rusty Usain Bolt overcame a ‘horrifying’ start to leave his rivals trailing in his wake by winning the 100 meters in London on Friday to show he is nearing top form ahead of next month’s world championships.
The world record holder, not known for being quick out of the blocks, was well and truly caught napping before picking up the pace over the final 50 meters for victory in a season’s best 9.85 seconds, well ahead of American Michael Rodgers (9.98) and Jamaican Nesta Carter (9.99).
It was a triumphant return to the Olympic stadium where Bolt dazzled the crowds at last year’s London Games on his way to winning three gold medals.
However, Bolt conceded that had the race been the world final in Moscow, the result could have been very different.
“In a great field, I’d probably be fifth or something,” the 26-year-old told a news conference.
Unusually, Bolt lined up at the start as only the second quickest man in the field this year behind compatriot Carter after starting the season struggling with the after-effects of a hamstring injury.
”(The start) was horrifying. I think I was just race rusty. I need to get a few races in.
”I think the rounds at the world championships should help out just to get my legs freer get me a little bit lighter.
“I thought the last part of my race was pretty good, the first part was harder but that’s normally Usain Bolt’s race so I just need to work on a few things and I’ll be all right,” added the Jamaican who was disqualified from the 2011 world championship final in Daegu for a false start.
“My coach keeps reminding me that I‘m not a good starter so stop worrying about it.”
Bolt had spent the build up to the meeting, held at the Olympic stadium to mark the anniversary of last year’s Games, answering questions about doping - following a spate of positive dope tests from Jamaican athletes - rather than his gold medal memories from 2012.
But the moment he stepped on to the track for the final event of the night, it was all about the big Jamaican. The country’s green and yellow flag were unfurled around the stadium and the stands flickered with thousands of camera flashes.
Bolt was happy to lap up the adulation from 60,000 fans on the track where he had recorded the second-fastest time ever of 9.63 seconds when retaining his Olympic title.
“The crowd here is unbelievable. They’re wonderful. It’s good to be back here. I’ve got a lot of love for this stadium and this crowd,” he said after treating the them to his trademark Archer celebration on the lap of honor.
However, the home crowd were deprived of seeing Britain’s new sprint hope James Dasaolu, who ran 9.91 earlier this month, take on the world’s fastest man when the 25-year-old withdrew just before the start with a hip flexor problem.
Reporting by Alison Wildey; Editing by Justin Palmer