Flexing his enlarged muscles for the television camera, Usain Bolt proclaimed “number one in the world. I’m ready.”
Bolt returned to the track for the first time in nine months following a loss to American Tyson Gay last August in Stockholm. The first European portioon of the 2011 IAAF Diamond League tour starts with the Golden Gala in Rome. It almost ended with Bolt falling short.
Most passive track followers can remember Bolt’s performance in the last Olympic games. He had the race in hand with almost half of the race remmaining, and began his celebration with 25 meters left. He still cruised to the win…and a world record pace of 9.58 seconds.
This time around he was slow out of the blocks and seemed to press for every hundreth of a second. In the end, he needed every bit he could shave, pulling iin front of fellow Jamaican Asafa Powell in the last few strides.
He had a head-shaking response to his 9.91second finish. Powell was second at 9.93, and Frenchman Christophe Lemaitre hit 10 seconds flat for third.
It is still quite early, and Bolt has time to test his ailing back that caused him to cut his 2010 season short before his focal race.
“I think over time it should be OK,” Bolt said of his back. “I got through my first race. I was so nervous. I got a bad start and then kind of started to panic. My coach will analyse the race. I was not proud of the race, but I’m getting there. My whole focus this year is getting ready for the World Championships.”
Fans have their eyes on a different race. There have been over a million requests for the 100 meter finals, making it the hottest tcket in sports. They anticipate the return of the Lightening Bolt by then.