Usain Bolt began his quest for the defense of his 100m title at the Olympics in great fashion winning his heat with ease. He ran the heat in 10.07 seconds and qualified for the semi-finals.
Justin Gatlin also qualified for the semi-finals with the overall best time in the heats, clocking 10.01 seconds. The men’s 100 meter finals are on Sunday. Bolt and Gatlin will be primed to win the gold medal.
Bolt, 29, began with a sluggish start but picked up later in the race to win it but looked in discomfort after the run. He is eying a triple-triple, having won the gold medal in men’s 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay at the previous two Olympics.
Usain Bolt 100m Heats:
# That is it! Usain Bolt’s time is fourth on the qualifying list and he has to improve on his start to clock better
# Usain Bolt qualifies for the semi-final of men’s 100m final after winning his heats with a time of 10.07 seconds
# Time for Usain Bolt in the 100m heats. He is a two time Olympics champion
# Yohan Blake clocks 10.10 seconds to win heat 6, qualify for 100m semi-finals
# Yohan Blake to run in the sixth heat. He is out on the track!
# Canada’s Grasse qualifies for the 100m semi-final with a timing of 10.03 seconds
# China’s wins heat 3 with a timing of 10.08secs. A personal best for him as he had run only 10.12 seconds earlier
# Justin Gatlin clocks 10.01 secs to win heat two and qualify for men’s 100m semi-final
# we are ready for the heat two! Gatlin will be primed to win this easily. Here we go
# Justin Gatlin is out there for the second heat in men’s 100m! He is primed to the best competition to Usain Bolt
# Bahrain’s Brown clocks 10.13 to qualify for the semi-final. He will be happy with the score.
# The first of men’s 100m heat begins in Rio. Gatlin in the second heat
# Usain Bolt will run the heats of 100m in a few moments from now. A big big day for the sprinters
Always the crown jewel in the Olympic athletics programme, the Rio 100 meters final is shaping up to be extraordinary for many reasons.
When Usain Bolt and company enter the Olympic stadium on Sunday, this will be it. The last Olympic 100 meters final for the greatest sprinter the sport has known.
With victory, Jamaican Bolt would become the first man to win three consecutive 100 meters titles at the Games.
Carl Lewis (1984 and 1988) and fellow American Archie Hahn (1904 and 1906) share the current mark with two each.
Yet, the lanky Bolt is not the only one looking for a place in history.
American rival Justin Gatlin, at the age of 34, would make a mark of his own with a podium finish. No man that old has ever medaled in an Olympic 100 meters final.
Britain’s Linford Christie holds the honor at present, snatching gold at the 1992 Barcelona Games at age of 32.
“It’s a very old competition with Bolt and Gatlin,” Olympic historian Bill Mallon told Reuters in an email.
“Some young guys are coming up with (American) Trayvon Bromell and (Canadian) Andre de Grasse, but I don’t see them challenging the old guys quite yet.”
While a Bolt triumph for the third consecutive Games would be a major accomplishment, it would not in the mind of Mallon push the Jamaican to the top of Olympic athletics achievements.
“(He’s) still behind Lewis’s long jumps and (American compatriot Al) Oerter’s discus throws,” Mallon said.
Both won four consecutive Olympic titles in the same event.
“If he (Bolt) does the triple gold again (100-200-4×100 relay), that would be at the very top of athletics Olympics achievements,” said Mallon.
A third consecutive triple would also tie Bolt with legendary Finnish long-distance runner Paavo Nurmi and Lewis as leaders in athletics Olympic gold medals with nine each.
That both Bolt and Gatlin are still running at such a high level is unusual and not just because of their age.
Gatlin, the 2004 Olympic champion, was totally out of the sport for four years while serving a second doping ban.
Yet the American is the fastest in the world this year at 9.80 seconds.
Because of his doping past, not everyone believes he should even be in the sport. However, he is fully eligible to compete under International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) rules.
The soon to be 30-year-old Bolt’s physique contributes to his ‘unusualness’.
Before the Jamaican and coach Glen Mills figured out a way to squeeze the 1.96 meters runner and his lanky legs into the starting blocks, few thought a sprinter that tall could be a success in the 100 meters.
Eight world records, six Olympic gold medals and 11 total world titles prove the doubters wrong.
By comparison, Gatlin, a one-time hurdler, has one Olympic gold and two world titles stretching back to 2005.
He has become even faster since returning from his four-year doping ban in 2010, and in 2013 handed Bolt his only loss in their eighth 100 meters meetings.
But he is unlikely to cause another upset.
A demoralizing loss to Bolt at the 2015 world championships when Gatlin was clearly in better shape no doubt weighs heavily on the American.
If you believe in tell-tell signs, just check the color of the track at the Rio Olympic stadium.
It is blue, the same color as the Berlin oval where Bolt delivered his last world record.
The health of Usain Bolt has been a question as the showman enters his final Olympics nursing a sore hamstring.
His parents paid him a brief visit in the athletes village and insisted Friday he’s ready to run and defend his gold medals.
Wellesley and Jennifer Bolt both inquired about their son’s health in their Thursday night visit with the sprinter. Bolt pulled out of his national championships last month because of the hamstring injury, but has insisted he’s fine to compete in Brazil.
“He said `Mom, if I wasn’t ready, I wouldn’t be here because I’m not into the losing thing. I’m ready,”’ said Jennifer Bolt.
Bolt is trying to win the 100, 200 and 4×100 relay just like the last two Olympics to close his career with nine gold medals.
The Bolts spoke to a small group of reporters during a news conference, giving anecdotes from Bolt’s childhood and discussing his rise into a global superstar.
Although he was born roughly 10 days past his due date “the only time in his life he was slow,” she said he’s been fast ever since. She recognized he might be special just three weeks after his birth when he nearly fell off a bed and she noticed him trying to push himself up.
“I thought ‘What kind of a child is this? Three weeks old and he’s pushing!”’ she said.
He was off and running from there, just like both of his parents. He once had to sprint home from school to collect his forgotten lunch and by 10, he could beat his mother in a race. Two years later, they knew for certain they had an athlete on their hands.
“At the age of 12, being in primary school, he started to compete in school sports and he was always on top and he was always beating his classmates,” she recalled. “From then, we noticed he would be a great athlete.”
He may have inherited his speed from his parents and father Wellesley took credit Friday for Bolt’s dance moves but the sprinter is a far bigger entertainer. The Bolts were soft-spoken and almost shy, although they said they appreciated the opportunity to tell reporters about their son.
They still live in the same modest one-story home in Trelawney, Jamaica, and wouldn’t dream of moving anywhere else. Moving would require making new friends and leaving behind what they know. Besides, life in Trelawney has improved significantly since Bolt’s first gold medals in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Since their son became a star, Trelawney now has running water, a paved road, refurbished clinics, health centers and schools and a new playground for kids.
Wellesley still reports for work at the village shop, where he sells as much as he gives away.
“It’s something to occupy my time so I don’t get lazy,” he said. “As parents, we are proud of him, but we don’t think it is fair of us to be acting over the head of the rest of the community. So I operate the shop mainly to give away what we have.”
They also enjoy Trelawney because Bolt can move freely through the community. Although he draws a crowd everywhere he goes, they said their son is happy at home. Once he’s retired, they look forward to the crowds letting him be.
“He will be able to move around as he wants,” Jennifer said. “People always want to get close to him, not to hurt him, but just get close to him.”
She said she has seen no change in her son as his stardom grows. From his debut in the 2002 junior world championships, Jennifer insisted Bolt is still the good child who listens to his parents.
The one thing that did grow, though, was Bolt’s love of the spotlight. Although Wellesley characterized him as “playful at home,” it wasn’t until Bolt took the world stage in Beijing that he realized how much entertainment he could give a crowd.
“In Beijing, he started doing all these things and realized people really liked it,” Wellesley said. “That’s when he became an entertainer.”
Bolt, who turns 30 on Aug. 21, has been adamant these will be his final Olympics. His parents believe him and think he’s determined to go out a winner. When he’s through competing, they know exactly what they want him to do.
“I would like him to be an ambassador to track and field because he brings fun to the sport,” Jennifer said. “After he leaves, you don’t know who will take over his role. Without him, it would be really boring.”