Usain Bolt eased into the 100m semifinals on Saturday but he would have to be at his best to retain his title as Ryan Bailey and Justin Gatlin stormed to the fastest ever first round times in the opening round at an Olympics.
World record holder Bolt, showing no signs of the hamstring injury which hampered him at the Jamaican trials, stumbled at the start of his heat but recovered to win it easing up in 10.09 seconds.
“It was good,” Bolt told reporters. “I’m happy, my legs are feeling good. My reaction was good, but I made a bad step and I stumbled a little. But overall it was good.”
Bailey, the least known of the three quick Americans, was the quickest qualifier with his blistering run of 9.88 seconds. Gatlin, who has served a four-year doping ban since winning at Athens, ran 9.97.
The other American, Tyson Gay, won the first heat in 10.08 seconds. Jamaica’s world champion Yohan Blake took the foot off the pedal 10 metres from the line but still won his heat in 10.00, summing up his feelings with the one word, "good". His compatriot and former world record holder Asafa Powell went through to Sunday’s semi-finals in 10.04.
Rain for final?
The men’s 100m final on Sunday could be run in rain if showers heading London’s way arrive early, forecasters say. The showpiece event is set for 9:50pm (0220am on Monday).
Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba's rocket-propelled final lap lit up the first day of track and field on Friday, burning off her rivals in style to retain her 10,000 metres crown.
Dibaba, 26, swept to glory in 30 minutes, 20.75 seconds, helped by a phenomenal final 400.
POLE TAKES SHOT
Poland's Tomasz Majewski retained the men’s shot put with a throw of 21.87m. It made the 30-year-old the first man to win the event twice since Parry O'Brien of the United States in 1952 and 1956 and the first non-American.
With his closest rival on the night Storl failing to register a distance in his last three throws, gold was to be Majewski's but not before one final flourish.