World's fastest men start their engines

The three fastest men in history, world-record holder Usain Bolt, reigning double world champion Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell, all cruised through their Olympic 100m heats in Beijing on Friday.

Jamaican Powell, the only sprinter to have recorded five runs under 9,8 seconds, led the way with 10,16 seconds in a packed National Stadium on the first day of athletics action.

Bolt, who stripped compatriot Powell of his world record in May with a 9,72-second run, eased up at the line to record 10,2 seconds, while American Gay finished in 10,22.

Gay was running his first competitive race in more than a month since suffering a hamstring injury in the 200m at the United States trials and admitted that he hadn’t been great at the start.

“I was a little sluggish but now it feels good and my body woke up in the heat,” said Gay, who set an American 100m record at the trials of 9,77 seconds.

Walter Dix of the US, touted by many as a possible gate-crasher in the 100m, qualified after finishing third in his heat in 10,35 seconds behind Portugal’s Francis Obikwelu and Nigerian Obinna Metu.

Also among the early qualifiers were Jamaican 2005 world silver medallist Michael Frater, who looked comfortable winning his heat in 10,15 seconds.

The Trinidadian trio of heat winner Richard Thompson, Darrel Brown and Marc Burns, as well as Kim Collins of St Kitts and St Nevis, gold medallist at the 2003 worlds, also progressed.

“I’m taking no prisoners,” warned Collins (32), who was sixth in the Athens Games final. “I’m taking no chances this time.”

Frater, who failed to make the final four years ago, added: “There is a very good chance that we will have six Caribbean sprinters in the final.”

British sprinter Tyrone Edgar also qualified in the leading time of 10,13 seconds along with Derrick Atkins of the Bahamas, last year’s world silver medallist behind Gay.

The men’s shot-put saw Pole Tomasz Majewski lead the qualification standings on 21,04m.

The favoured American trio of Adam Nelson, Reese Hoffa and Christian Cantwell all moved through to the final later on Friday, reaching the qualifying mark of 20,4m with ease.

“I was a little flat but it got over the line, so that is all that matters,” said Hoffa. “I feel very good.
I expended very little energy so I think I have a lot to give in the final.”

The women’s heptathlon saw Hyleas Fountain take a psychological lead after the first event, the American winning the 100m hurdles in 12,78 seconds.

Briton Kelly Sotherton, who won bronze in Athens and the worlds last year and came to Beijing as favourite in the absence of Carolina Kluft, had a fourth-best time of 13,18 seconds, leaving her 61 points adrift of Fountain as they went into the day’s second discipline, the high jump.—Sapa-AFP

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