Usain Bolt gets back up to speed in Rome

Triple Olympic champion Usain Bolt last night banished the memories of his go-slow in Ostrava with a commanding victory in Rome.

Bolt had struggled to victory in a time of 10.04 seconds last Friday, the first time since a rainswept night in Toronto in 2009 that he had failed to break 10 seconds outside a heat or semi-final.

The Jamaican shrugged off the race as an off-day, prescribing himself more food and sleep after arriving in Italy in a bid to regain power in his legs.

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And that appeared to have been the recipe for success as the 25-year-old overcame another sluggish start to power to victory in 9.76secs, the fastest time in the world this year and a meeting record.

Former world record holder Asafa Powell was second in 9.91secs, with European champion Christopher Lemaitre third in 10.04.

Asked if he was relieved after that performance, Bolt said: “I would say yes, slightly.

“I knew I could do it but since I’ve been in Europe I’ve not been sleeping regularly so after Ostrava I decided that I would make sure I start going to bed early. I felt extremely well, extremely great, so it’s coming back and I feel good.”

As for the pressure on his shoulders leading up to the defence of his Olympic titles in London, he added: “People expect me to do well at all times and I expect that of myself also, so it’s not really a question for me, it’s just one of fun and enjoyment.

“I came out here tonight not to prove anything to the world, but tell myself that I’ve still got it and I’m working my way from here.”

The performance of the night from a British perspective came from Robbie Grabarz, who won the high jump with a new personal best of 2.33m which takes him top of the world rankings in 2012.

Grabarz lost his lottery funding at the end of a poor season in 2011, but that forced him to rededicate himself to the sport and it paid dividends last night as he cleared each height at the first attempt until failing to clear 2.35m.

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“I achieved what I set out to achieve,” the 24-year-old said. “I have been jumping very well in training but been trying to keep a lid on it. That’s why I started my season so late.”

Meanwhile, Steph Twell’s bid to earn the Olympic qualifying mark over 1,500 metres came up short. The Scotland international failed to live with the fast pace and trailed in 12th in 4:09.50, almost 13 seconds behind Ethiopia’s Abeba Aregawai who now tops the world rankings after her winning run of 3:56.54.

However, Twell’s time was inside UK Athletics standard for this month’s European Championships in Helsinki. The 22-year-old has already stated her ambition to double up over 1,500 and 5,000 metres in London.