Usain Bolt summoned up just enough energy to get past Jamaican compatriot Asafa Powell at the line to win the 100m on Thursday at the third Diamond League meeting of the season, which was dominated by the US.
The Olympic champion and world record holder, in his first competitive outing since losing to American Tyson Gay nine months ago, started slowly, but powered ahead in the final 5m to win in 9.91 seconds in humid conditions.
It was his ninth victory in 10 races against Powell, who ran 9.93 seconds, with Frenchman Christophe Lemaitre third in 10 seconds.
“I don’t think I should be judged on today’s performance,” Bolt said. “It was my first race for nine months and I was nervous. I had to get the cobwebs out and the muscles going, but it’s a good start to the season by winning.”
Italian Andrew Howe brought the Olympic Stadium to its feet in the men’s 200m. Lifted by the crowd in the final straight, he powered home in 20.31 seconds ahead of Jamaican Marvin Anderson (20.49 seconds) with Trinidadian Rondel Sorrillo in third (20.68 seconds).
American Khadevis Robinson, 35, caused a major upset in the 800m, setting his best time of the year as he cruised to victory in 1 minute, 45.09 seconds ahead of South Africa’s Mbulaeni Mulaudzi (1 minute, 45.50 seconds) and Kuwait’s Mohammed Khalaf al-Azemi (1 minute, 45.52 seconds).
“Nobody could have expected I’d win here,” Robinson said. “I felt good, everything went well and the oldest man in the race won.”
In the men’s 400m, Christopher Brown of the Bahamas produced a devastating sprint in lane 7 to win in 45.16 seconds with Jamaica’s Jermaine Gonzales (45.43 seconds) and Belgian Jonathan Borlee (45.53 seconds) trailing in his wake.
Louis Van Zyl continued his fine start to the season with a second series victory in the 400m hurdles. Leading from start to finish, the South African won in 47.91 seconds with Briton David Greene second (48.24 seconds) and American Angelo Taylor third (48.66 seconds).
“I changed my training a lot this year,” Van Zyl said. “I sold my motorbike, I have a diet and I sleep enough. I finally feel like the real professional athlete.”
In the men’s 5,000m, Ethiopia’s Imane Merga set the fastest time this year, 12 minutes, 54.21 seconds, in the cooler late evening conditions after breaking from a five-strong group in the final straight to beat Kenya’s Isaiah Kiplangat Koech and Vincent Kiprop Chepkok.
British triple jumper Phillips Idowu’s third-round leap of 17.59m — the longest this year — was enough to secure a convincing win in the men’s event over Sweden’s Christian Olsson (17.29m) and Cuban Alexis Copello (17.14m).
In a close women’s 200m, American Bianca Knight kept her cool in lane 2 to win in 22.64 seconds ahead of Jamaican Kerron Stewart (22.74 seconds) and Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie (22.76 seconds).
Allyson Felix set the best time this year in the women’s 400m by winning in 49.81 seconds. Coming into the final bend level with Botswana’s Amantle Montsho and fellow American Francena McCorory, Felix held her nerve to win with meters to spare.
There was a US 1-2-3 in the women’s 100m hurdles with Dawn Harper (12.70 seconds) holding off the challenge of Kellie Wells and Danielle Carruthers after another American, Lolo Jones, who had been leading, hit a hurdle four from home.
American Britney Reese jumped 6.94m to win the women’s long jump. Her opening leap of 6.64m was bettered by compatriot Funmi Jimoh’s third round 6.87m but, urged on by the fans, the lanky Reese responded on her fourth jump to take first place.