Road To The Olympic Games

Track and Field

Rivals Usain Bolt, Justin Gatlin to front world 100m semifinal

Reigning Olympic and world champion Usain Bolt and longtime rival Justin Gatlin will headline the men's 100-metre semifinals on Saturday (CBCSports.ca, 2:05 p.m. ET) at the track and field world championships in London, England.

Mo Ahmed sets Canadian record in 10,000, won by Mo Farah for 3rd straight time

IAAF World Championships London 2017 on CBC Prime Time 59:59

Reigning Olympic and world champion Usain Bolt and longtime rival Justin Gatlin will headline the men's 100-metre semifinals on Saturday (CBCSports.ca, 2:05 p.m. ET) at the track and field world championships in London, England.

The 30-year-old Bolt, who is retiring after the competition, is seeking his fourth world title in the event he has dominated since the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Lumbering out of the starting blocks and closer to last than first for half of Friday's heat, Bolt sped away nonetheless to an easy victory.

"The race overall was a poor start," Bolt said. "I had to push myself a little to get back in the race. But overall, I'm glad I got to push myself, blow the cobwebs out. I'm feeling OK, but it wasn't a great race."

Canadians Brendon Rodney and Gavin Smellie stopped the clock in 10.29 and 10:36 at London Stadium but failed to advance.

Rodney and Gavin Smellie were the lone Canadians in the competition after Olympic bronze medallist Andre De Grasse withdrew earlier this week due to a hamstring injury.

"I was looking forward to it because it was a showdown," Bolt told CBC Sports' Perdita Felicien of the much-anticipated matchup against De Grasse, the 23-year-old rising star from Markham, Ont.. "Injuries are part of the sport, so you just gotta bounce back. He's a young kid. Hopefully he just focuses on getting right and he should be fine."

At 50 metres, Bolt started pulling ahead. At 75, he was looking to his left, where he saw nobody. At 90, he was shutting things down to coast to the finish line.

At the 2015 worlds in Beijing, Gatlin made a tactical mistake, going into his lean too early as Bolt sneaked past him by 0.01 seconds. Gatlin also finished runner-up to Bolt at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

"I feel good. I feel confident," the 35-year-old Gatlin, who has only beat Bolt once in nine attempts, said of his chances this time. "We've been working on some things, making sure our race pattern is a little different than before."

Coleman confident of beating Bolt

University of Tennessee product Christian Coleman finished in 10.01, the second-fastest time behind another Jamaican, Julian Forte (9.99) and is confident of unseating Bolt.

"I have a lot of confidence in myself that I can come out and win," Coleman said. "But you never take anybody for granted. … Got to make sure I'm on my 'A' game, make sure I'm ready to compete."

Coleman, 21, won the 100 and 200 at the NCAA championships in June and before that made a splash by sprinting 40 yards in 4.12 seconds , then posting video of it after the National Football League draft.

The final goes Saturday (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 4:45 p.m. ET).

Farah wins 10,000, Ahmed sets Canadian mark

British distance legend Mo Farah is halfway to becoming the first athlete in history to win three consecutive world championship doubles.

The 34-year-old finished Friday's 10,000-metre first in 26 minutes 49.51 seconds. He will try to accomplish the double in the 5,000 on Aug. 12 at 3:20 p.m. ET.

Farah will retire from the track after competing in the 5,000 Diamond League final on Aug. 24 in Zurich.

Mo Ahmed of St. Catharines, Ont., placed 8th in 27:02.35, breaking Cam Levins' Canadian record of 27:07.51, set May 29, 2015 at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore.

For a brief moment late in the race, Ahmed passed Farah into third spot.

'He fought every step of the way'

"The pace was very variable early on but he [Ahmed] didn't panic and stayed close to Mo Farah which was a clever thing to do," said CBC Sports track and field analyst Dave Moorcroft. "He got clipped and bumped a number of times but again, didn't panic.

"He fought every step of the way, ran tactically very well and a personal best and Canadian record is a terrific performance.

"If he can recover well," added Moorcroft, "it sets him up nicely for the 5,000 next Saturday. He will need to make sure he covers any break over the last three laps. He is mixing with the best in the world now and belongs in that elite group."

Ahmed, who finished fourth in the men's 5,000 at the Rio Olympics last August, holds the Canadian outdoor record at 13:01.74.

His season best for 2017 is 13:08.16 after placing 12th in the event at the 2015 worlds in Beijing in 14:00.38.

2 Canadians survive in women's 1,500

Two of the three Canadians entered in the women's 1,500 metres advanced through their heats and into the semifinals.

Gabriela Stafford ran a personal-best 4:04.55 to place seventh in her heat and move on. The top six in each heat automatically advance, plus the next six fastest runners overall.

"I was boxed in for a little bit but i stayed patient and confident," Stafford said.

Nicole Sifuentes ran a season-best 4:05.24 to place eighth in her heat and advance.

Sheila Reid finished 12th in her heat and was eliminated.

The semifinals are Saturday (2:35 p.m. ET).

Newman, Newell in pole vault final

Canadians Alysha Newman and Anicka Newell also booked their spots in the women's pole vault final.

Newman, from London, Ont., cleared 4.55 metres, while Toronto's Newell was good over 4.50. Ekaterini Stefandi had the best jump of the night of 4.60.

Newman, who missed the 2015 worlds with stress fractures in each foot, told CBC Sports recently that she's ready to reach her season goal of 4.80.

Since finishing 17th overall at last summer's Rio Olympics after failing to make the final, the 23-year-old has made adjustments on the runway to create more pole speed and better recover energy out of the pole that has led to her clearing 4.65 six times by her count this season, her first as a professional. 

"I want to be a medallist at worlds and the Olympics," Newman said. "I want to do that for Canada. For myself, this is my dream, my job, what I live for day in and day out. I just need that one meet to prove myself. I want to make a statement."

The 3-time Olympic and World Champion won his 100m heat in a time of 10.07 seconds to advance to the IAAF World Championship semifinal. Canadian Brendon Rodney did not advance 7:57

With files from The Associated Press/Canadian Press/CBC Sports

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