OSTRAVA, Czech Republic – Usain Bolt opened his European track season on Friday by clocking 10.04sec in the 100m after what he dubbed a “very bad day at the starting blocks”.
The double sprint gold medallist from the 2008 Beijing Games overcame a dreadful start at the second time of asking and into a -0.8m/s headwind and grimaced his way from the 50m mark, the long-legged Jamaican opening up a lead on his rivals to the line.
Veteran Kim Collins of St Kitts and St Nevis came second in 10.19sec with American Darivs Patton third in 10.22.
“I don't really know what went on,” said Bolt, who added that he hadn't run as badly as this one since an outing in Canada back in 2009.
“At the start, I didn't feel as explosive as I normally feel. If you don't get that first start, well that's where my power comes from for the transition and everything comes together.
“That's reality, a very bad day at the starting blocks. I don't know exactly where it went wrong.
“I was looking forward to coming here and doing a good time. I guess it's just one of those days.”
Bolt said he had not managed to get the crucial “drive” phase of his race from 50 metres going as he liked it.
“When I was in the back warming up, I did some starts and I was flying,” he said.
“I ran out and didn't get going, couldn't generate speed up in middle of race so I had to work hard to get some speed up.”
Bolt added: “I'll go back, look at the replay, talk to my coach and he can explain what I need to do and then I can go to Rome and improve on my time.”
As introductions were made on the stadium big screen, reggae music booming, Bolt danced, played air guitar and generally goofed around for the benefit of a capacity 20,000-strong crowd at the Vitkovice City Stadium in this eastern Czech city.
When the screams and whistles died down, Bolt, wearing luminous green spikes and loose blue singlet over grey camouflage shorts, settled in his blocks after crossing himself and looking skywards.
But then South African Simon Magakwe false started to ruin the suspense, with the crowd on their feet all around the stadium in anticipation.
Bolt made no such mistake on his departure at the second time of asking after raising his fingers to his lips as the cameras zoomed in close up.
The Jamaican revolutionised sprinting, and indeed athletics, four years ago in Beijing, setting world records when winning the 100 and 200m titles, and also starring in a record-breaking Jamaican quartet in the 4x100m relay.
The 25-year-old Jamaican left the Chinese capital as one of the most recognisable figures in world sport, unbelievably going on to beat both his individual sprint marks with new times (9.58 and 19.19sec) in the Berlin worlds in 2009.
He lost his world 100m title in Daegu, South Korea, last July to compatriot Yohann Blake after sensationally false starting in the final.
But with track and field set to again take centre stage at this summer's London Olympics, the world's largest sporting event, Bolt may not have delighted fans, sponsors and meet organisers alike with his performance here but as he said, a win is a win.
Briton Dwain Chambers, who has served a drugs ban and is now cleared to race in the Olympics after the Court for Arbitration in Sport (CAS) overturned a British Olympic Association bylaw that banned doping cheats for life, recorded 10.28sec, missing the Olympic qualification time of 10.18. – Sapa-AFP