BEIJING, Aug 15, 2008 - Jamaica’s 100 metres world record-holder Usain Bolt on Friday sent out a message of intent to his rivals for the Olympic crown with an effortless run of 9.92 seconds to qualify for the semi-finals.
Bolt shot off from the blocks at the Bird’s Nest here Friday and after taking the lead on 50 metres, eased up and mockingly flicked his head from one side to another as he posted the sixth best time of the year.
His compatriot Asafa Powell, from whom he snatched the world record in May, also won his heat in style, easing up at 10.02sec.
But American reigning double world champion Tyson Gay laboured to a second-place finish in his race at 10.09sec.
The trio’s predicted dominance in the blue-riband event, however, could well come under threat from a raft of pretenders to the title.
Churandy Martina of the Dutch Antilles and Richard Thompson of Trinidad both clocked 9.99sec in their respective heats, and could well be in the medal mix if they can continue that form into Saturday’s semis and final.
Frenchman Mehdi Baala and Bahrain’s Moroccan-born runner Rashid Ramzi, the 2005 double world champion over 800m and 1500m, both looked at ease in winning their heats in the men’s 1500m.
It's good for my self-belief,'' said Ramzi, who has been selective in the choice of his events in the past. I’m not running for the money, I’m running for the glory.’’
American duo Bernard Lagat and Lopez Lomong, born respectively in Kenya and Sudan, both qualified but struggled.
``It wasn’t as easy as I wanted it to be to qualify,’’ admitted Lagat, who took Olympic bronze behind then Kenyan compatriot Noah Ngeny in Sydney 2000 and silver in the Athens 2004 edition behind Hicham El Guerrouj, also as a Kenyan.
I wanted to run outside and not to get boxed in. I was counting the spots and all I wanted was top five and I didn't want to go crazy. There's always a worry in the final 100m and with five ahead of you. It was a scare and I don’t want to leave it like that again.’’