While the excitement surrounding Usain Bolt’s last major championship appearance in London has understandably hit fever pitch, there has been a nagging doubt that it would be all too easy this time.
While the 30-year-old is clearly not the absolute force of nature he was in Beijing 2008 or the world championships in Berlin the following year, the received wisdom was that his rivals, if anyone could be called that, had fallen back too.
Yes, Bolt had only posted one sub-10 second run this season but there have been injury scares and wobbles before and he always delivers when it matters. If the superstar is to again he will need to vastly improve on a bit of a shocker of an opening round last night.
After raising the roof of the London Stadium, in contrast to the boos that rang out for former drug cheat Justin Gatlin of the US earlier, the Jamaican legend, never noted for his start, stumbled badly out of his blocks.
He still won with ease but in a snail-like by his standards time of 10.07. “That was very bad, I’m not very fond of these blocks,” said the 11-time world and eight-time Olympic champion.
“I think these are the worst ones I’ve ever experienced. I have to get this start together because I can’t keep doing this.”
All three British sprinters reached this evening’s semi-finals. Reece Prescod qualified in 10.03, with CJ Ujah joining him in 10.07 and James Dasaolu coming home second behind Bolt in 10.13.
American Christian Coleman, who has the world leading time of 9.82, looked impressive in 10.01, while it was left to another Jamaican, Julian Forte, to be the only man to break 10 seconds in 9.99. Gatlin won his heat in 10.05.