Runners in the second semi-final of the men's 100m at the IAAF World Championships London 2017 (Getty Images) © Copyright
Report London, UK

Report: men's 100m semifinals – IAAF World Championships London 2017

One step short of the gold medal race, the fastest man in history met the fastest man of 2017. The third and last semifinal of the men’s 100m tonight (5 August) pitted Christian Coleman, the US sprinter who clocked 9.82 at the NCAA Championships on 7 June, against one Usain Bolt, the man – make that superman – who flew to that 9.58 world record on the blue Olympiastadion track in Berlin at the 2009 edition of the IAAF World Championships.

To the surprise of most in the sell-out crowd, not least the huge bank of Jamaican fans seated close to the finish, it was Coleman who crossed the line first. In doing so, capitalising on another sluggish start by Bolt, the 21-year-old student from the University of Tennessee brought an end to the world record-holder’s 28-race winning streak at 100m.

In his heat Bolt had stumbled out of the blocks yet still managed to ease to victory. This time, the three-time world and Olympic 100m champion only managed to make only a marginal recovery after losing ground from the off.

Coleman, the fourth fastest US 100m man of all time, got out smartly and built up a clear lead before Bolt started to gather momentum. The Jamaican closed as the line approached and glanced across at his emerging young rival with an expression that seemed to say “I could have got you”.

Still, Coleman took the win in 9.97, finishing 0.01 ahead of Bolt, whose 9.98 represented his slowest ever semifinal time at a World Championships or Olympic Games – 0.02 down on his figures when he stumbled out of the blocks at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing.

French sprinter Jimmy Vicaut, the co-holder of the European record, took third place in 10.09 and made it through to the final as a non-automatic qualifier. Briton Chijindu Ujah, fourth in 10.12, failed to make the cut.

It was Bolt’s first defeat in a 100m race since he finished 0.01 behind Justin Gatlin in the Golden Gala IAAF Diamond League meeting in Rome on 6 June 2013.

Gatlin, silver medallist behind Bolt in the past three global 100m finals, also made it through to tonight’s final as a second-placed finisher.

Drawn in the opening semi-final, the 35-year-old US sprinter found himself eclipsed by an inspired Akani Simbine.

The South African record-holder only progressed from the heats as a non-automatic qualifier but left nothing to chance in his semi, shooting out of his blocks and resisting a late charge by Gatlin, the former world record-holder.

Simbine prevailed in 10.01, with Gatlin second in 10.09, Ben Youssef Meite, the Ivorian who finished sixth in the Olympic final, was fourth in 10.12. Like Ujah, Meite’s time proved 0.02 short of securing him a place in the final as a non-automatic qualifier.

Yohan Blake, the training partner who took the title in Daegu in 2011 after Bolt was disqualified for a false start, won the second heat in 10.04. China’s Su Bingtian was clear in second for most of the race but the noise of the home crowd helped to propel British champion Reece Prescod from eighth place to secure the second automatic spot in 10.05. Su’s figures in third, 10.10, was quick enough to book his passage as a time qualifier.

Simon Turnbull for the IAAF