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01 Jun 2008 09:33
Jamaica’s Usain Bolt clocked a 100m world record of 9,72 seconds on Saturday to electrify the Reebok Grand Prix athletics meeting.
The 21-year-old broke the previous record of 9,74 set by compatriot Asafa Powell in Rieti, Italy, on September 9 2007.
With a favourable wind of 1,7m/sec, Bolt finished ahead of 100m and 200m World Champion Tyson Gay of the United States (9,85) and American Darvis Patton (10,07).
On a night when thunderstorms and the threat of lightning forced a 45-minute disruption to the action—and that after the start of the meet was delayed for an hour—Bolt delivered the real jolt of the night.
The 1,95m-tall Jamaican immediately became the man to beat as the athletics season builds toward the Beijing Olympics in August, with Gay, Powell and the rest of the world’s sprinters relegated to the role of challengers.
“This world record doesn’t mean a thing unless I get the Olympic gold medal, or win at the World Championships,” he said.
Bolt, the 200m world championships silver medallist, had set the athletics world buzzing on May 3 when he clocked 9,76—then the second-fastest time in history—at a meeting in Kingston.
With that performance he appeared poised to live up to his earlier credentials, which included world junior records and status as the youngest man to reach a World Championship sprint final, at Helsinki in 2005.
While Bolt is now front and centre in the 100m reckoning, he said the 200m remains his passion.
“I always say the 200 is my favourite race. That’s not going to change,” said Bolt, who is considered by many a likely threat to Michael Johnson’s 200m world record of 19,32 set in Atlanta in 1996.
On the same East River island in New York City—but at a different stadium—that saw Leroy Burrell and Frank Budd set previous 100m world records, Bolt blazed out of the blocks and was never threatened.
“I knew if I got out of the blocks OK, I’d have a good chance,” Bolt said.
“I knew this was a fast track and that I was ready to run something in the 9,7’s.
“But 9,72, that’s pretty good.
Gay applauded the performance, but insisted it didn’t change his approach to Beijing.
“I was only 1/100th off my own PR [personal record], so you can see what a great race Usain ran tonight [Saturday],” Gay said.
“I’m not surprised that he ran that well. After all, he had that 9,76,” Gay added. “But this was just one race, it was only my second 100 of the year. I’m not going to change the programme. I’m right on schedule.”—AFP
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