He did the pose, he did his waves, he got the win. But plainly all is not right with Usain Bolt, who rather worryingly seems to have misplaced his boosters two months out from the World Championships.
His 100 metres time here in Ostrava was 10.06sec, which is hardly grounds for a full-scale search for a lost soul, but equally it was a good deal short of the standards he has set. He ran 9.58 when he last broke the world record at the World Championships in Berlin in 2009.
The fact that he only marginally beat Yunier Perez, a Cuban running a personal best of 10.09, is a little concerning, but more troubling was the slight limp as he started what felt like contrived celebrations.
He said afterwards that he would be visiting his doctor to discuss the back problems that have dogged him in a farewell season that is yet to hit its stride.
His season-opening run of 10.03 in Jamaica on June 10 was, in his words, ‘horrifying’, a messy combination of a slow start and subdued finish. Here, his start was reasonable, but whereas the Bolt of eight Olympic gold medals has always motored away around the 50m mark, this version couldn’t put any great distance on a mediocre field.
With the worlds in London edging closer, and with it his retirement, there must be a marginal fear that the grand finale of the world’s greatest athlete will not have its happy ending.
His reflections on the night were distinctly muted, with the 30-year-old saying: ‘I’m not happy with the time but I’m just getting into my running, improving the execution. I’ll be fine.
‘I never worry. I always tell you guys if my coach is not worried I’m not worried. I just need to go to the doctor and get everything checked out to make sure everything is smooth.
‘It’s just my back, as always. My doctor told me over the years that the older I get the worse it is going to get, so I just really have to try to keep it in check.
‘I need to go see him to make sure everything is smooth because it is a bit tight. But I didn’t get injured and that’s the key thing. I am happy about that — it’s just about sorting it out and I should be fine for London.’
Of course, this may just be the lull before the glory, as in his injury-hit 2015 season when he recovered to beat the convicted doper Justin Gatlin in the World Championships.
But this time round he has more on his mind, most notably the passing of his close friend Germaine Mason, the British high jumper who was partying with Bolt the night he crashed his motorcycle and died. Bolt said he lost three weeks of training to grief and his coach Glen Mills offered a greater insight into Bolt’s feelings from Jamaica on Wednesday.
‘It was a big blow,’ he said. ‘He took it very hard. But he is a champion and a fighter. In time, he will overcome and be able to continue his life, but we will see how much work we can get in to overcome the period lost.’
Bolt still has a warm-up race in Monaco next month before heading to London and the sprints that will end his career.
Meanwhile, Mo Farah beat a weak field to win the 10,000m — but fell way short of his stated aim of beating his personal best of 26:46.57. It was always fanciful in the absence of world-class opposition and his closest challenger on the night, Kenyan Mathew Kimeli, 19, didn’t push Farah until the final lap.
The Brit’s sprint response was convincing, but his time of 27:12.09 was a long way adrift of his target.