Usain Bolt en route to his dazzling 9.76 in Kingston (© Getty Images)
Usain Bolt was on fire at Saturday night's Jamaica International Invitation, posting a sizzling 9.76sec, the second fastest 100m time ever.
The Jamaica International is one of a select group of Area meetings at which points can be acquired by athletes to qualify for the IAAF / VTB Bank World Athletics Final, to be held on 13-14 September in Stuttgart.
Bolt, the World Championships silver medallist, finished within two hundredths of a second outside countryman Asafa Powell's world record of 9.74. Bolt's performance now sees Jamaica with the world's two fastest men, and the top five times in the history of the event – Powell (9.74, 9.77 three times) and Bolt (9.76).
The world junior 200m record holder at 19.93 seconds, Bolt, led four world leading times on the night. Americans Lashinda Demus, Kerron Clement and Jamaican Kerron Stewart also achieved world leading marks.
Bolt surprised, but his coach wasn't
But, the attention cannot be too much for the Central American and Caribbean 200m record holder at 19.75 seconds, especially since he held his nerve after two false starts to blaze to such an impressive time – one which was the talking point on everyone's lips leaving the stadium.
Even his rival in the 200m, world sprint double champion Tyson Gay, who said: "It (performance) was beautiful. He was very smooth and he executed very well."
As for Bolt, who had a 1.8 m/sec wind, inside the legal limit of 2.0m/sec, admitted he was a bit shocked by the time.
"I was definitely surprised when I saw the time," said Bolt, who said he "I was in shape for a 9.85."
Asked if the performance meant he was closing in on compatriot Powell's World record of 9.74, Bolt, whose time beat Powell's stadium record of 9.84 and the world leading time of 10.00 by Trinidad & Tobago's Richard Thompson, replied: "You never know, you never know."
American Darvis Patton was second in 10.08 seconds while Antiguan Daniel Bailey was third in 10.12 in the event.
Bolt's coach Glen Mills, according to him, was the only person who was not surprised at the athlete's cracker. "I am not surprise because he has been doing well in training ... this is just the beginning," he promised.
Parade of impressive world leads
Stewart, a member of Jamaica's silver medal 4x100m team at last year's World Championships in Osaka, also blazed the track to win the women's 100m in 10.96 – her first sub-11 seconds time.
She was delighted: "I could not ask for more," she said. "I just pray that it stay that way right to the Olympic," added Stewart, who beat the previous best season best of 11.06 held by Kelly-Ann Baptiste of Trinidad & Tobago.
In the 400m Hurdles, American Clement, the world champion, took the men's race in 47.79 seconds, ahead of Danny McFarlane of Jamaica (48.74) and Michael Tinsely of United States (48.84).
"It was a great race. I just came out here and executed to my plans," Clement explained. He said he was not surprised with the fast time, which beat the previous 2008 best of 48.32 by his compatriot Bershawn Jackson.
"I made up my mind that I was coming out here to run 47 seconds," he added.
In the women's 400m Hurdles, Demus won in 54.83 seconds, beating Jamaican Shevon Stoddart (55.68) and American Markita James (56.79). Demus’s time beat the previous season best of Tiffany Williams, also of the United States (54.97).
Gay opens with 20.00 victory, junior Knight upsets Campbell-Brown
Meanwhile, World sprint double champion Tyson Gay took the men's 200m in 20.00, beating Chris Williams of Jamaica (20.78) while 19-year-old Bianca Knight (22.62) upset Olympic champion Veronica Campbell-Brown (22.93) in the women's event.
Gay said his warm-up was a little bit off, but added: "It still was a great run for me."
Knight, who turned 19 this year and still a junior, was also third in the 100m, clocking 11.11, also a personal best.
American Sanya Richards won the women's 400m in 50.60 seconds.
Richards, who handily beat Jamaicans Novlene Williams-Mills (51.63) and Sonita Sutherland (52.94), said she wanted to run faster, but was affected after sitting down for too long.
"I am happy with the win, but I wish it was a little faster," she said while adding, "It was pretty windy on the backstretch also."
In the field, Jamaicans Herbert McGregor (7.74m) and James Beckford (7.60m) finished one-two in the men's Long Jump while American Funmi Jimoh (6.57m) beat Jamaican Jovanee Jarrett (6.57m).
Jamaican Dorian Scott (20.51m) won the men's shot put. American Dan Taylor (20.43m) was second.
Anthony Foster for the IAAF