Usain Bolt coasts to victory in 100 heats; Farah gets gold
LONDON — With the same aura, bravado and even the lackluster start, Usain Bolt stuck to tradition Friday in his farewell championships.
The Jamaican great revved up the crowd at the Olympic Stadium and then coasted to victory in his first-round heat in the 100-meter dash.
“It was brilliant,” Bolt said, referring to the incredible crowd support. “They come out in their numbers.”
In a rare occurrence, though, Bolt was upstaged in the noise department when local great Mo Farah recovered from a stumble with 300 meters to go and won gold in the 10,000 meters — his 10th straight global long-distance title going back to 2011.
The British runner, also running on the track in his final major championships, showed the Jamaican how to win gold before saying goodbye.
Bolt is set to retire after the 4×100-meter relay next weekend. Farah still has the 5,000 next week before heading for the road and the marathon.
After winning three gold medals at the 2012 London Olympics, Bolt walked back into great memories when he lined up for his 100 heat. He was sluggish out of the blocks, but his massive stride easily made up the deficit. From the 70-meter mark, it was easy.
In Lane 7, he glanced left as he neared the finish and saw all was good — no one close. Bolt crossed the line in a slow 10.07 seconds, making sure he finished first as he slowed down at the end.
James Dasaolu of Britain was .06 seconds back.
“It was a slow start,” Bolt said. “I had to push a little bit to get back in the race.”
Next is Saturday’s semifinals. The final is later that night.
Before the race, the goateed Bolt acknowledged the crowd with outstretched arms. He did the eyebrow raising, the wide grins and even some shadow boxing.
Justin Gatlin didn’t fare that well with the crowd. The American was widely booed for his past doping conviction. But still the biggest threat to Bolt, he easily won his heat in 10.05 seconds.
Christian Coleman, the fastest man of the season so far, won the first heat in 10.01. In the next one, 2011 champion Yohan Blake struggled all the way and finished only in a tie for second to go through.
Another Jamaican, Julian Forte, matched his lifetime best to become to first man to break the 10-second mark to win his heat in 9.99.
In the first major surprise of the world championships, Olympic champion Jeff Henderson failed to reach Saturday’s final in the long jump.
Following a mediocre first attempt and a foul, the American could only manage 7.84 meters, which was not enough to get him among the top dozen qualifiers. Shaking his head and applauding the fans, he is out of the competition.
The top performer of the year, Luvo Manyonga, qualified for the final on his first attempt, setting a mark of 8.12 meters, 7 centimeters beyond the automatic qualifying mark.
Mayonga, the Olympic silver medalist, injured his ankle in June and had not been jumping competitively since, so all eyes were now him to see how he had recovered.
By that time, the crowd had already cheered for gold — even before the first event started. And some athletes already wept for joy.
In a special ceremony to give due credit to athletes who initially finished behind medalists later caught for doping, the U.S. women’s 4×400-meter relay team finally got its gold for victory at the 2013 Moscow worlds.
The Russians initially won the race but were later disqualified for doping. The U.S. team was promoted from silver to gold with Britain and France also bumped up a notch.
Similar ceremonies were also held for other races from the 2009, 2011 and 2013 worlds.
“It is really important we get them into the right hands,” IAAF president Sebastian Coe said. “It is what we are celebrating tonight.”
Still, the ceremony was also tinged with melancholy, since the medalists got their rewards years late with many in retirement.
Francena McCorory of the United States wiped away tears when she was handed a bronze medal for the 400-meter race from 2011. She was also part of the relay team which was handed gold for the 2013 title.
“Even tonight, celebrations can never replace” the feelings of getting it at the championships themselves, Coe said. “It is the next best thing we can do.”