Olympics Summer

Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt sets 100m record

Jamaican runner Usain Bolt, who doesn't even consider the 100 metres his best race, set the world record Saturday night in New York City with a time of 9.72 seconds.
Usain Bolt of Jamaica walks the track with his country's flag after setting a world record of 9.72 seconds in the 100-metre sprint at the Reebok Grand Prix at Icahn Stadium in New York. ((Stephen Chernin/Associated Press))

Jamaica's 21-year-old sprint sensation Usain Bolt beat double world sprint champion Tyson Gay in the 100 metres on Saturday night in New York City, setting a world record in the process.

Bolt, whose best event has always been the 200m, won in 9.72 seconds at the Reebok Grand Prix event at Randall's Island in New York. American Gay finished well back in 9.85 seconds.

The wind reading was a legal 1.7 metres per second. Bolt's time shaves two one-hundredths of a second off  the previous mark set last year by countryman Asafa Powell. Powell is currently nursing a chest injury.

Four weeks ago Bolt ran 9.76 seconds in Kingston, Jamaica. Saturday's performance defied the skeptics who said he couldn't run as fast outside his homeland.

"I wasn't really looking for a world record, but it was there for the taking," said Bolt, who won the 200 at the IAAF world youth championships in Sherbrooke, Que., in 2003.

Saturday's result marked the first time the record had been set in the United States since the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, when Donovan Bailey ran a 9.84 to take gold for Canada.

The poor weather conditions hampered some performances but after a severe thunderstorm delayed the meet by almost an hour the sport's superstars came through nonetheless.

Jamaica swept the 100 as Veronica Campbell-Brown of Jamaica beat a women's field that resembled a world championship final in a time of 10.91 seconds, the fastest in the world so far this year. Four U.S. athletes followed closely.

Marshavet Hooker was second in 10.94 and Muna Lee third in 10.97. The 2005 IAAF world champion Lauryn Williams was fourth, recording a time of 11.13 seconds. Allyson Felix, who had run 10.93 in Doha, Qatar, earlier this year, tied with Williams.

In his first race of the season, Victoria's Gary Reed finished a strong third in the men's 800m final, recording at time of 1:45.81. The race was won by Yousef Kamel of Bahrain in 1:45.53, two one-hundredths of a second ahead of Khadevis Robinson.

Reed was delighted with his race.

"It was solid, it was my first race since last summer and I was pretty happy with it," said Reed, the 2007 world championships silver medallist. "Last year I opened in 1:46, so this year it was a bit quicker. The guys were very reputable, I was really happy.

"It was very windy and raining a lot and as soon as we finished they pulled us off the track and held up the meet for an hour."

Reed will race at next week's Prefontaine Classic and will go to Europe for a series of four invitational meets following the Canadian championships.

The conditions deteriorated during the race and the runners competed in a downpour. The meet was delayed 45 minutes because of a severe thunderstorm immediately afterwards.

In the men's 400m hurdles, reigning world champion Kerron Clement of the United States won by a comfortable margin in 48.40 seconds, his second consecutive win in his specialty. Four weeks ago he recorded the world leading time of 47.79 and seems on the path to Olympic glory.

"It was OK," Clement said of his race." I wanted to run a little faster but there were some some tactics involved and there was the weather. I controlled the race from the beginning. So I wasn't in danger, Not at all."

Kenya's Paul Koech, the 2004 Olympic bronze medallist, put on quite a display in the men's 3,000m steeplechase, running away from the field to win in 8:01.85. Steve Slattery of the U.S. was a distant second in 8:28.21. Koech's winning time is the fastest time in the world this year.

The world's top three rated shot putters put on quite a show in the event with Reese Hoffa clinching victory thanks to a throw of 21.29m. The 2007 IAAF world outdoor champion turned back Adam Nelson and the 2008 IAAF World indoor champion Christian Cantwell. All three are Americans.

Canada's Kevin Sullivan and Nathan Brannen finished second and third in the men's 1,500m. While Sullivan has achieved the Olympic A+ standard of 3:36.00, Brannen is still chasing it. His time of 3:39.21 tonight was a disappointment.

"I didn't get my standard so it was obviously not great," Brannen, the 2006 Commonwealth silver medallist said. "There was a delay in the meet — they had a big storm. By the time we raced, the wind had died. It was ideal conditions. The conditions weren't to blame other than being 10:30 at night and humid."

Brannen admitted having missed four days of training last week after spraining his ankle. Now he heads back to Ann Arbor, Mich., where he lives to prepare for another attempt at the standard.