Bolt obliterates 100-metre world record
Jamaican sprinter thrills Berlin crowd with run of 9.58 seconds
Usain Bolt yucked it up for the television cameras and then turned on his game face, shattering his own world record in the men's 100 metres in a time of 9.58 seconds at the world track and field championships in Berlin on Sunday.
Running full-out in ideal conditions and against the toughest competition possible for the first time in his 22 years, Bolt blew away his own world record — set last summer at the Beijing Olympics — by a massive .11 seconds and made rival Tyson Gay seem like a laggard despite setting a U.S. record of 9.71 seconds.
"I was ready to execute and I did just that," Bolt told CBC Sports. "I was happy with myself."
It was the biggest improvement in the record since electronic time was introduced in 1968.
Racing before a crowd of 55,000, Bolt glanced quickly to his right at 90 metres to check on Gay, then left, at the Olympic Stadium scoreboard, as he crossed the line and then pounded his chest when he saw the record time displayed.
"For me it was all about going out there to win," Bolt said. "I knew Tyson was running well all season. I got a good start and I took it from there."
"When I got to 50 metres I knew it was going to be tough for Tyson because that is the best part of my race."
Despite his astonishing new mark, Bolt believes he can run even faster.
"For me anything is possible," he said. "I'm just going to keep doing my best and hopefully I can keep doing great things, and keep on breaking records."
Gay, last year's world champion, has been hampered by a nagging groin injury of late. He arrived in Berlin with the season's top time of 9.77 at the Golden Gala track and field meet in Rome.
"I put everything into it. But I came in second," Gay said. "I can definitely run faster."
Bolt's countryman Asafa Powell was third in a time of 9.84, his best performance of 2009.
After the race, Bolt grabbed a flag, hugged Powell, with whom he had been literally shadowboxing for fun just before the start. They wrapped themselves in the Jamaican flag and it looked like the Bird's Nest in Beijing all over again.
Daniel Bailey of Antigua and Barbuda and Richard Thompson of Trinidad and Tobago tied for fourth at 9.93.
The win was the second straight for Bolt over Gay, who hasn't tasted victory against Bolt since the 200-metre final at the 2007 worlds in Osaka, Japan.
In May 2008, Bolt blew away Gay (9.72 to 9.85) in New York on a rainy night at the Reebok Grand Prix.
Bolt flirted with disaster in the semifinal earlier Sunday by false-starting. Facing elimination if he did it again, Bolt had time to eye the stadium clock and his opponents as he slowed across the line in 9.89 seconds.
"I do my worrying outside of the competition," said Bolt. "I was worried during the season because it was up and down, but coming into the [world] championships, I knew I was ready so there was no worries."
Gay signalled his groin was still giving him trouble after his semifinal heat, but he forced Bolt to run the race of his life less than three hours later.
Gay stayed with him over the first part but once Bolt unfurled his huge stride, there was no contest.
Jamaica rules women's 100
Ahead of that race, the Jamaican and American women got their own sprint rivalry going earlier Sunday.
Kerron Stewart ran 10.92 in the 100 for the best time, leading a Jamaican team effort that placed three of their runners in the top four. Carmelita Jeter of the United States was the only one able to split the trio, running 10.94 for second place.
The final is set for Monday.
Overall, Jamaica won five of six sprint titles at the Beijing Olympics and left the U.S. team without a single gold. Now, the Americans want to become the top nation again.
With most people centred on the sprints, Russia became the first nation with double gold when Olympic champion Olga Kaniskina won the women's 20-kilometre walk, defending her world championship title from two years ago.
With the javelin and 800 left in the heptathlon, Jessica Ennis was firmly in the lead. The Briton managed only the ninth-best long jump result but was able to maintain her overall lead in the seven-discipline competition.
With a jump of 6.29 metres, Ennis amassed a total of 5,064 points after five events.