SPORT

Bolt blazes to 100m glory in 9.72s

The Jamaican betters compatriot Asafa Powell’s world mark

NEW YORK: Jamaican sprinters electrified the Reebok Grand Prix in New York on Saturday with Usain Bolt setting a new 100 metres world record and Veronica Campbell-Brown posting the fastest time of the year in the women’s event.

However, there was disappointment for China’s world record-holder and Olympic champion Liu Xiang, who had to withdraw from the 110m hurdles due to a tight hamstring.

The 21-year-old Bolt announced he is a genuine force in track and field’s blue ribband event by streaking home in a time of 9.72 seconds, breaking the previous record of 9.74 posted by compatriot Asafa Powell last September.

Bolt, World Championship silver medallist in the 200, exploded off the starting line to get an early jump on world champion Tyson Gay and left the American second in 9.85. Gay’s compatriot Darvis Patton was third in at 10.07.

Pretty confident

“I had the idea that I could run the world record,” Bolt told reporters after his stunning win. “I was pretty confident coming in here.

“I wasn’t looking for a world record but it came to me today and I’ll take it.”

At 1.96m tall Bolt has struggled with his start, but he timed this one beautifully after another runner’s false start, breaking out ahead of Gay and was never threatened.

“I was glad for the first false start,” Bolt said. “My first start wasn’t that good. I knew if I got Tyson on the start I’d get him.

“My coach said concentrate on the drive phase and that’s what I did.”

Earlier this month, Bolt had stunned the athletics world by running 9.76 in Jamaica, the second fastest time then, and only his third competitive race over the distance.

Gracious in defeat

Gay was gracious in defeat. “This is definitely great for the sport,” he said. “Obviously I have some work to do.

“Right now, it’s hats off to Bolt. Today was his day.”

Bolt’s brilliant performance crowned a great night for Jamaica as world champion Campbell-Brown ran the fastest women’s 100 of the year, winning her event in 10.91 seconds, two-hundredths of a second faster than American Allyson Felix’s 2008 best.

Liu, who had made the meet at Icahn Stadium one of only two competitions he planned between now and defending his Olympic title in Beijing, addressed Chinese supporters who came to Randall’s Island to see him. He thanked his fans for coming and said he had felt his muscle tighten during training on Friday.

“I hope everybody will cheer for the other athletes,” Liu told the crowd, which gave him a big cheer as he waved and walked off.

Other top performances included world championship bronze medallist Wallace Spearmon winning the men’s 200 in 20.07 seconds, and Paul Koech of Kenya recording the fastest 3,000 steeplechase on U.S. soil with a time of 8:01.85. — Agencies

Faster…and faster

The last five fastest men’s 100m WR timings

Read as Time, Name, Country, Year

9.84, Donovan Bailey (Canada), 1996

9.79, Maurice Greene (USA), 1999

9.77, Asafa Powell (Jamaica), 2005

9.74, Asafa Powell 2007

9.72, Usain Bolt (Jamaica), 2008

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