Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake both set Weltklasse meeting records despite rain and cold winds at the Diamond League event on Thursday.
The hottest star attractions in athletics continued to fulfill their post-London Olympics plan of dividing the glamor sprints between them — and making fast times seem routine.
Bolt playfully shivered for the television cameras at the 200m starting line, then timed 19.66 seconds in the fastest half-lap race ever seen in Zurich.
“Running after the Olympics is much more fun, it is less stress. The fans make me enjoy it,” Bolt said.
Earlier in the 100m, fellow Jamaican Blake blazed to a dominating victory in 9.76 seconds after Tyson Gay of the US was disqualified for a false start.
There was a major surprise in the 800m as Olympic champion David Rudisha was beaten by Mohammed Aman of Ethiopia.
Rudisha was targeting the world record he set at the London Games, but said he was unsettled by the poor weather.
Bolt is no lover of the cooler European climate, yet still set a record for the high-class Weltklasse meeting which has long called itself “the Olympics in two hours.”
The triple Olympic gold medalist was only a meter clear of Nickel Ashmeade in the final straight, then muscled through to widen the gap.
“I paced myself in the curve. I’m happy to achieve a sub-20 time, but I did not want to push my body,” Bolt said.
Bolt’s 19.66 seconds, without a following wind, was 0.13 seconds faster than Wallace Spearmon of the US ran in Zurich two years ago. He also pulled through Ashmeade — who could not even make the Jamaican Olympic team at 200m — to a personal best of 19.85 seconds.
Blake ran perhaps a technically better race than Bolt and used a chilling 1.4mps wind to accelerate clear of Olympic relay teammate Nesta Carter, who finished second in 9.95 seconds.
“Bad weather cannot stop me. Next year, I can be even better,” said Blake, who will defend his 100m world title in Moscow in August next year.
The 22-year-old Blake ran 0.01 seconds faster than Asafa Powell in Zurich in 2006, which was good enough then to equal Powell’s own world record.
Bolt will complete his season over 100m next Thursday when Brussels hosts the second half of the Diamond League finals. Blake goes in the 200m.
Rudisha arrived in Zurich with the stated aim of lowering the 1 minute, 40.91 seconds world mark he set on a warm London evening three weeks ago.
In swirling winds and steady rain, Rudisha was paced through the first lap, but could not distance Aman on the back straight and was headed coming off the final bend.
“My legs felt tired and I cannot run good if the weather is not good,” Rudisha said. “The race was good, really. It was the rain that stopped me.”
The Ethiopian winner timed 1:42.53 to take two-thirds of a second off his personal best set when placing sixth in the Olympic final.
“Hopefully next year I will beat the world record,” Aman said.
In the women’s 100m, two-time Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica reasserted her authority over Carmelita Jeter following two defeats to her US rival the previous week.
Fraser-Pryce was fast out of the blocks and never looked troubled as she crossed the line in 10.83 seconds, with Jeter timing 10.97 seconds.
Olympic 400m champion Sanya Richards-Ross of the US extended her season-ending good form, winning in 50.21 seconds, while Dawn Harper crossed in 12.59 seconds to lead a US podium sweep in the 100m hurdles.