Usain Bolt called his 100m first-round effort “very bad” after a minor stumble, yet he won in typical fashion at the world championships in London on Friday as he heads toward retirement.
“I stumbled a little bit coming out of my blocks,” Bolt said on the BBC. “I’m not really fond of these blocks. I think these are the worst blocks I’ve ever experienced. It was not a smooth start. I have to get this start together. I can’t keep doing this.”
Bolt came from behind to take the lead and shut it down in the final strides as he usually does in non-finals.
The top challengers also advanced, including the last two Olympic silver medalists, Justin Gatlin and Yohan Blake, and the fastest man in the world this year, Christian Coleman. Full results are here.
The semifinals and final are live Saturday on NBC Sports (broadcast schedule here). Bolt is expected to finish his career with the 4x100m relay on Aug. 12. Also Friday, Mo Farah stormed to his third straight world 10,000m title at his farewell worlds.
In the 100m heats, the 35-year-old Gatlin heard boos before and after easily winning his heat in 10.05 seconds. Gatlin is disliked by many fans for being Bolt’s top rival and having served a four-year doping ban.
“Just over the years, people never forget things,” Bolt told media in London. “But he’s a great competitor, and I know in the final he’s going to compete.”
Bolt and Gatlin joked Friday.
“I said, you’re going to take a year off, you’re going to party around the world, and you’re going to come back to track and field,” Gatlin told media in London. “And he laughed at me. We’ll see. I have a $100 bet on that.”
Blake got a poor start but recovered to finish second in his heat in 10.13. It marked Blake’s first race since June 25 after pulling out ahead of a July meet with a reported groin injury.
Coleman, who ran 9.82 at the NCAA Championships, clocked 10.01 to win the very first heat. Coleman cruised and slowed the final few strides before crossing the finish line in his first 100m outside of North America.
In other events, Olympic champion Jeff Henderson failed to qualify for Saturday’s 12-man long jump final. He was 17th in qualifying.
Jenn Suhr no-heighted in the pole vault at the stadium where she won Olympic gold in 2012.
All of the favorites advanced in the women’s 1500m heats, including Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon of Kenya, world-record holder Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia, Olympic bronze medalist Jenny Simpson and Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya. The semifinals are Saturday and the final Monday.
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