KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) — Usain Bolt spent a few minutes on the grassy infield of National Stadium after his race Thursday night, putting himself through some very slow cool-down jogs.
It was an easy end to an easy night.
Officially beginning his quest for a third consecutive Olympic gold medal in the 100-meter dash, Bolt cruised his way through the quarterfinals at the Jamaica National Senior Championships – which serve as his country’s trials to decide who goes to the Rio Games in August.
No one has ever won three golds in the 100, which is what both Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce could do in Rio. They’ll be among the favorites to qualify for the team on Friday night, when the 100 semifinals and finals are held about two hours apart for both the men and women. The 200-meter qualifiers are Saturday and the semis and finals in that event come when the meet ends Sunday.
Bolt completed his quarterfinal in a jog-for-him time of 10.15 seconds. Fraser-Pryce won her quarterfinal in 11.38 seconds.
“It was about advancement,” Jamaican sprint star Veronica Campbell-Brown said.
True. Thursday was little more than an obligatory dress rehearsal for Bolt and the other top Jamaicans. He changed clothes trackside after his race, left his flimsy white plastic chair without a word and headed to the infield for a brief workout that was capped by some photos with fans – even some policemen. As he walked back across the track and into the night, a song blared throughout the stadium’s speaker system.
“Mi nah falla nobody,” was the lyric.
Even when translating the lyrics from Patois to English, the message was clear.
No, Bolt doesn’t follow anybody, and doesn’t plan to anytime soon, either. He wasn’t the fastest on Thursday night – that distinction went to Nickel Ashmeade, who won his heat in 10.07 seconds, though certainly no one would label him as the favorite for Friday.
The closest thing Bolt had to trouble on Thursday was a false start in his heat, though it didn’t seem to affect him whatsoever. Jamaica’s biggest track names – Bolt, Fraser-Pryce, Campbell-Brown, Yohan Blake and Asafa Powell – all advanced out of the quarters with ease.
An NCAA champion earned his trip to Rio, when Arkansas’ Clive Pullen – a Kingston native who was the Division I indoor champion this past winter – won the triple jump and did so while hitting the Olympic qualifying standard. He’s the first Jamaican to earn a triple-jump Olympic spot in 44 years.
“To do it on home soil is a blessing,” Pullen said.
Pullen was already daydreaming about walking into the opening ceremony in Rio in the same group as Bolt.
“Cannot wait,” Pullen said.