Giant on the move
A stroll in the sun for Usain Bolt (Updated)
Until today I would not have thought it possible that somebody could amble 100 metres in 9.92 seconds but that is what Usain Bolt did in his second heat of the event on the first day of athletics action in the Bird’s Nest.
The gods had been kind and produced a clear-skied day hot day with minimum breeze and Bolt enjoyed his time in the sun.
He started off running 10.2 in the opening heat and never appeared to reach full speed, was easing down from about 70 metres yet clocked a time that would have won the gold medal in the Moscow Olympics 28 years ago.
He returned in the evening for a another leisurely stroll around the Bird’s Nest to make it clear that his world record of 9.72 is extremely vulnerable.
The near-capacity 91,000 crowd certainly enjoyed it, and were similarly pleased by the efforts of Asafa Powell and Tyson Gay, Bolt’s two biggest, but by no means only, rivals for the gold in Saturday’s final.
With the Olympic flame burning fiercely from its Cornetto cauldron and the echo of the starter’s gun rippling up through the magnificent triple-tiered stadium, there was no question that the fans were watching something special.
There was not too much local success to get the Chinese supporters going but they let rip when heptathlete Liu Haili made her clearances in the high jump.
What they will be like when when Liu Xiang goes in the 110 hurdles final on Aug. 21 I can scarcely imagine. But I’m looking forward to finding out.
Mitch Phillips, from the Bird’s Nest
PHOTO: Usain Bolt of Jamaica competes in the first men’s 100m heat at the National Stadium during the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, August 15, 2008. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn
NOTE: This post was updated after the second heats in the evening.