KINGSTON, Jamaica – And, he's off.
On a night where the only bit of drama came from a false start a few lanes over, Usain Bolt took his first step toward the London Olympics with an easy qualifying heat, finishing 100 meters in 10.06 seconds.
Starting four lanes over from Usain Bolt, Ainsley Waugh jumped from the block early in the first heat Thursday night. The gun signaled the false start and the crowd — only a few thousand for a light schedule on opening night — oohed and ahhhed.
But Bolt was hardly fazed. He crouched his 6-foot-5 frame back into the blocks, jumped out safely and slowly, accelerated past the competition with about 40 meters left, then looked left and right as he approached the finish line and saw exactly what he expected — nothing.
A few minutes later, defending world champion Yohan Blake ran the fastest time on a calm night in Kingston — 10 seconds flat — to advance. These times are almost certain to pick up Friday, when semifinals and finals are scheduled.
Bolt and Blake both declined any comment after the race. Bolt, being chased by a couple dozen reporters, draped a towel over his head and a handler said, "Sunday, Sunday, Sunday," which is when the meet ends with the 200 final. Blake's contribution: "Can't talk. Later."
On Friday, though, the two are expected to line up against each other for the first time since world championships, when Bolt false-started and Blake won the title.
Willing to stop after he advanced in a time of 10.19 was Asafa Powell, often the forgotten man in these meetings. Powell was, however, the last man before Bolt to hold the world record. Seems like eons ago, even though it was only four years ago. Last month, he lost to Bolt by 0.06 seconds and said he felt pretty good. But if there's another gear or a challenge to be made, it probably won't be this week.
"We're not in London yet," Powell said. "So, no, it's not the time."