Bolt wins 100-metre gold, shatters record
Jamaica's Usain Bolt ran an electrifying 9.69 seconds in the 100-metre sprint to set a new world record and take Olympic gold at Bird's Nest Stadium in Beijing on Saturday night.
Bolt, who turns 22 on Thursday, annihilated the field. Getting off to a decent start, he then exploded ahead and even took time to celebrate with his arms out with several metres left.
The presumed showdown between Bolt and countryman Asafa Powell, who held the world record until a few months ago, did not take place. Powell finished off the podium, fifth place in a time of 9.95.
Richard Thompson of Trinidad and Tobago won silver at 9.89, with Walter Dix of the United States taking bronze. Dix, an NCAA champion just out of school at Florida State, ran 9.91.
Churandy Martina of Netherlands Antilles was fourth at 9.93.
Canadian Donovan Bailey's long-standing Olympic record fell as a result of the race in front of over 90,000. Bailey of Oakville, Ont., ran to gold in 9.84 at the 1996 Atlanta Games.
Bailey symbolically placed an imaginary crown on Bolt's head after the race.
"I never knew how fast I was going," Bolt told CBC Sports. "One aim was just to win and do what I have to do."
Bailey said the sky's the limit for the sprinter, who gave Jamaica its first ever gold in the event.
"He can absolutely run sub 9.6," said Bailey.
"He's doing things no other human being has ever done before," he added.
When asked about his celebration before the finish line, which may have cost him some time, Bolt said he was concerned about winning more than running the fastest possible.
"Better to break it smaller than bigger, I would say," he said. "[Then] you have a next time to break it."
Reigning world champion Tyson Gay of the United States did not take part in final.
Gay finished fifth in his semifinal heat in a time of 10.05 and did not advance. The American ran a wind-aided 9.68 at the U.S. Olympic trials but then suffered a tendon injury in his hamstring.
He was racing competitively in Beijing for the first time since the injury.
"I did my best. I don't have any excuses," Gay said. "I'm pretty upset. When I get back to the village it's probably going to set in."
He refused to blame it on his hamstring though.
"I'm healthy. My leg is a little sore, just from the rounds," Gay said.
Bolt took over the world record from Powell with a 9.72 race in May in New York City.
Powell held the record for three years but will again have to deal with the knock of not peaking for the sport's top event. He was classy in defeat, however.
"Usain was spectacular," Powell said. "He was definitely untouchable tonight. He could have gone a lot faster if he had run straight through the line."
The other men competing in the final, in order of finish were: Michael Frater of Jamaica, Marc Burns of Trinidad and Tobago, and Darvis Patton of the U.S.
Bolt showed potential in Quebec
Bolt, who won the 200m in Sherbrooke, Que., at the world junior championships five years ago, has only been concentrating on the 100 for about a year.
He had the top times in the second round and semifinal despite shutting down his races early.
Bailey's record almost certainly would have fallen in the semis had he not cruised over the last 25 metres.
Bolt has a chance at three gold medals in Beijing, racing in the 200 and in the 4x100 relay for the strong Jamaican side.
He said he took inspiration from American swimmer Michael Phelps.
"He's working hard and he really wants it and that's the same aim I've got," said Bolt. "I really want it so I'm going out there and giving it my all."
Among the notable sprinters eliminated in the semis were Derrick Atkins of Bahamas, Kim Collins of St. Kitts-Nevis, and Francis Obikwelu of Portugal.
Obikwelu won silver at the 2004 Athens Games, while Atkins was the silver medallist at last year's worlds in Osaka.
Arron eliminated in women's 100 metres
Jamaica's Kerron Stewart clocked the fastest time as the women finished the second round of qualifying in the 100 metres. Stewart came in at 10.98 seconds, ahead of Lauryn Williams of the U.S., at 11.07.
Sherone Simpson of Jamaica also beat out an American rival in her heat, holding off Muna Lee. Simpson ran 11.02.
Torri Edwards of the United States, Shelly-Ann Fraser of Jamaica and Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie of Bahamas won their heats.
Among the others advancing were defending Olympic champion Yuliya Nestsiarenka of Belarus, Ivet Lalova of Bulgaria, Chandra Stirrrup of Bahamas and Jeanette Kwakye of Great Britain.
French veteran Christina Arron, 34, did not advance. Arron, who has won five world championship medals and a bronze in the Athens Games in the 4x100 relay, ran 11.36.
Arron ran the third fastest time at the distance, although it was accomplished in 1998.
Of the women moving on, Lalova has recorded the fastest time, a 10.77 in 2004. Edwards has nearly matched that mark within the last year.
3 Americans fastest ahead of hurdles final
Americans took the top three times heading into Sunday's 400-metre men's hurdles final, followed by a pair of Jamaicans.
Angelo Taylor of the U.S. ran 47.94 to lead the way, the only runner under 48 seconds.
He beat countryman Bershwan Jackson in his heat. Kerron Clement won a slightly slower heat in 48.27, followed by Danny McFarlane and Markino Buckley of Jamaica.
The Olympic and world record was set in a time of 46.78 at the 1992 Games by Kevin Young.
With files from the Associated Press