Kingston, JamaicaWorld Champions Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake and Carmelita Jeter lived up to their billings on Saturday as they highlighted the JN Jamaica International Invitational with electrifying performances to spark a nearly packed national stadium in Kingston.
Bolt shrugged off two false starts to open his Olympic preparation at this IAAF World Challenge Meeting with a world leading 9.82 seconds in his first 100m on Jamaican soil since 2008. Blake had his best ever 200m season opener when he blitzed 19.91 while Jeter won her third straight women’s 100m in 10.81.
There was a fourth world leading performance, in the women’s 400m where home town girl Novlene Williams Mills caught Jamaican-born American Sanya Richards-Ross 30 metres from the line to win in 49.99, her best ever start while Ross still ran a season best 50.11.
Bolt: 'It was better than last year so I am definitely happy with myself’
Bolt warned that he was in better shape last year when he retained his World Championships 200m and said the only motivation he needed was retaining his titles and winning races.
With the crowd screaming from the gun, Bolt took control of the race early before easing away from the field to beat Michael Frater who clocked 10.00 and Commonwealth Champion Lerone Clarke (10.03).
"It is a good start I would say," Bolt told journalists after taking time for a victory lap, warm down and to greet fans in the stands.
"It was better than last year so I am definitely happy with myself, I don’t think the execution was perfect but I think for my first race it was good so I am happy with it," he also said.
He admitted the two false starts threw him off his concentration, "I was trying to stay focused, a couple of false starts really threw me off but I was just trying to stay focused and went out there and executed as best as possible," he explained after the race was recalled twice.
In the first instance, the false start was blamed on the technical equipment while Trinidad and Tobago’s Olympic 100m silver medalist Richard Thompson was allowed to compete under protest after being ruled to have jumped the gun the second time.
Bolt who reported that his preparation was going well, 82 days out of the start of the Olympics, saying he was still working on the weakest part of his race, he first 40 metres.
"The end of my race is the best part so I was trying to work on the first part of my race, the first 40 metres, but as I run and get fitter it will all come together."
Having the first 100m out of the way he says coach Glen Mills will analyse the race while he has another three 100m to go starting in Ostrava on 25 May to sort out the kinks.
Blake content with 19.91 cruise
Blake the 100m World champion, showed off a much improved curve to win in 19.91 which he described as "wonderful" given his usual openers were in the 20.30 seconds range.
Nickel Ashmeade, Blake’s high school teammate who won last year was second in 20.09 with Warren Weir third in 20.21.
Blake who claims he is not sure he would be contesting to sprint double at the Jamaican Olympic Trials, said despite liking 100m, says the 200m could be his better event given his speed endurance.
World leads for Jeter and Williams Mills
Jeter made it three straight with a meet record as Trinidad and Tobago’s Shelly-Ann Baptiste was second in 10.86 equalling the old record set by the American last year with Jamaica Kerron Stewart third in 10.89.
Jeter, who is also the world leader in the 200m, said she made mistakes including not been more "aggressive" at the start.
Williams Mills who told reporters afterwards that the crowd fired her up, retained her title and extended Richards Ross’s string of futility here as she has not won in several years.
Richards Ross who is chasing her first Olympic title said she had targeted a sub-50 seconds time after she led the world with 50.18 seconds coming into the meet.
American Bianca Knight continued to get good rewards in Kingston after beating Olympic 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce at the line to win the women’s 200m in 22.49 to 22.53 with Shalonda Solomon third in 22.82.
Brigette Foster Hylton surprised the field to win the 100m hurdles in 12.51, her best time in two years, to beat Canada’s Priscilla Lopes-Schliep (12.64) who just got second ahead of Briton Tiffany Porter (12.65).
Two-time World Indoor champion Brittney Reece won the Long Jump with 6.56m, ahead of Bahamian Bianca Stewarts’s 6.46m with Jamaica’s Jovanee Jarrett third in 6.41m.
American Reese Hoffa won the men’s Shot Put with 20.71m ahead of Croatia’s Nedzad Mulabegovic (20.66m) and another American Corey Martin (20.43m).
Donald Thomas of the Bahamas produced a season best 2.27m to win the High Jump ahead of USA’s Jamie Nieto (2.24m) while another Bahamian, Leevan Sands, took the Triple Jump in 16.33m, beating Great Britain’s Larry Achike (16.26m) and Samyr Laine of Haiti (16.19m).