Jamaican sprint star Usain Bolt overcame rain-soaked, chilly conditions to streak to his new season best in winning his favoured 200 metres at Tuesday’s Golden Spike meet.
In the eastern Czech city of Ostrava, the 28-year-old world and Olympic champion – who also holds the world 100 and 200m records, clocked 20.13 seconds, almost a second behind his world record of 19.19sec set back in 2009.
In his only previous appearance over 200m this season, and following a string of injuries that plagued him in 2014, Bolt timed 20.20sec on home soil in Kingston, Jamaica, in April. It is the first time since 2007 that Bolt has run two back-to-back 200m slower than 20sec.
Bolt said he had wanted to go under the 20-second barrier but “the conditions didn’t allow and I’m coming back from an injury so it’s going to take time”.
“For me it was not a perfect day but I’m just happy to have gotten out at least injury-free,” he said.
“The longer you stay in the cold the more you worry about getting injured so my reaction was slow because I didn’t really want to stress too much getting out of the blocks.
“It was different but it was just a strategy because of the cold.”
Bolt, who has won six Olympic gold medals, eight world championship titles and smashed world records several times over, is aiming to build up his form in a bid to defend his golden treble at the world championships in Beijing in August.
Bolt said he was feeling better ahead of Diamond League meets in New York and Paris.
“Everything is going smooth, it’s all about now coming out there and executing in the races — the more I run the better I feel and the faster I can go,” he said.
“Hopefully in New York (there will be) better conditions and I can push myself.
“I have four or five more (meets) to go before the championships so I have a lot of running to do.
“We’re just working on technique right now, we will analyse everything and they will tell me what I need to work on.”
Asked how sure he was of getting back into his former shape, Bolt said: “A hundred percent, man. If my coach is not worried, I’m not worried.”
There was more Jamaican joy in the 100m, with former world record holder Asafa Powell winning in 10.04sec, a steady distance off Bolt’s record of 9.58sec.
“I felt very good and the time in these weather conditions is not that bad after all,” Powell said.
– Rudisha limping off –
There was drama, however, for David Rudisha, the reigning Olympic 800m champion and world record holder over the two-lap event.
The Kenyan limped off the track midway through a rarely-run race over 600m, holding his right thigh.
“Very unfortunate that I pulled my muscle just after 100m. But it’s not a very serious injury, thank you all for your support,” he said on Twitter.
Ethiopia’s Dejen Gebremeskel, the Olympic runner-up from London 2012, won the 5,000 metres in 13min 23.72sec.
Reigning world champion Bogdan Bondarenko of Ukraine claimed the high jump with a best of 2.24 metres and Olympic champion Christian Taylor of the USA dominated the triple jump competition with 17.52 metres.
Brazilian youngster Thiago Braz took the pole vault honours with 5.75 metres, Kenya’s Julius Yego took the javelin gold with a national record of 86.88 metres, while Serbia’s Asmir Kolasinac won the shot put with 20.51 metres.
US sprinter Charonda Williams won women’s 200 metres in 23.12 seconds, while Ukraine’s Anna Mishchenko earned the 1,500 metres honours in 4min 07.09sec.
US hurdler Sharika Nelvis dominated the 100m hurdles in 12.56 seconds and reigning world champion Zuzana Hejnova pleased the home crowd by winning the 400m hurdles in 55.13 seconds.
Israel’s Marharyta Dorozhon won women’s javelin with a national record of 63.85 metres, stunning 2011 world champion Mariya Abakumova and 2008 and 2012 Olympic champion Barbora Spotakova.
The Ostrava meeting is not part of the elite Diamond League series but has recently become a highly popular meet for top athletes. – Agence France-Presse