ROME (AFP) –
Usain Bolt proved his slowest run in three years a week ago was nothing but a blip as he was back to his best at the Diamond League meeting on Thursday.
The world record holder had disappointed in Ostrava with a time of 10.04sec, which he himself described as slow, although he still won.
But there was no hint of such sluggishness this time around on a track generally considered to be fast.
The Olympic champion bolted away from the field to win in a time of 9.76sec, the fastest in the world this year and a new meeting record.
Perennial bridesmaid Asafa Powell simply could not live with his Jamaican compatriot and was second in 9.91sec, although television replays suggested he stepped out of his lane in his first few strides.
European champion Christophe Lemaitre was third in 10.04sec despite a woeful start that saw him practically last.
Bolt said he had been getting extra sleep in a bid to put his Ostrava run behind him.
“Since I arrived in Rome I made sure I was in bed early so I got a lot of rest and slept a lot,” he said.
“In Ostrava I had not had enough sleep, this race was much better than in Ostrava.
“The execution of my race was not perfect but improved, I executed well, my drive was better and I started well. The transition was also better.
“After Ostrava a lot of people doubted me but I never questioned myself, I am just happy with myself.”
Bolt’s performance, although excellent, was put into shade by that of Kenyan Paul Kipsiele Koech who ran the third fastest 3,000-steeplechase of all time with a stunning 7min 54.31sec.
His run was so good that it left world champion and favourite Ezekiel Kemboi trailing in his wake more than 15sec behind in fourth.
There were two national records by Ethiopian women as Fantu Magiso in the 800m and Abeba Aregawi in the 1500m both secured surprise victories.
Magiso finished in 1min 57.56sec, beating Kenya’s Olympic champion Pamela Jelimo, who has run the fastest time over the last 29 years, into second with Russian world champion Mariya Savinova third and former world champion Caster Semenya down in a disappointing eighth.
Aregawi emulated Magiso’s feat with the fastest 1500m this year in 3min 56.54sec.
Kenya got a measure of revenge in the women’s 5,000m which provided a photo finish in a gripping dash to the line.
Double world 5,000m and 10,000m champion Vivian Cheruiyot just out-dipped former Olympic champion Meseret Defar by three hundreths of a second.
Britain enjoyed success in the field events as Robbie Grabarz won the high jump with 2.33m and Greg Rutherford snatched long jump victory with his final leap of 8.32m.
In the absence of British world champion Dai Greene, Puerto Rico’s Javier Culson won the men’s 400m hurdles in 48.14sec.
Jamaica’s Kaliese Sencer won the women’s 400m hurdles in 54.39sec ahead of world champion Lashinda Demus with Olympic champion Melanie Walker last but one in a time almost four seconds outside her personal best.
Olympic and world champion Valerie Adams from New Zealand easily won the women’s shot-putt setting a new meeting record and a world-leading effort of 21.04m.
That was more than a metre further than anyone else managed and in fact five of her six efforts would have been good enough to win the competition.
Olympic champion Barbora Spotakova threw a world leading 68.65m in the women’s javelin in the last round to snatch victory from South Africa’s Sunette Viljoen, who had herself thrown a then world-leading 67.95 two throws earlier.
World champion Olha Saladukha won the women’s triple jump with a leap of 14.75m and Murielle Ahoure of Ivory Coast triumphed in the women’s 100m in 11sec dead.