• Athletics

Bolt bounces back with 9.76s display

ESPN staff
May 31, 2012

Usain Bolt bounced back from a sluggish display in Ostrava to run 9.76 seconds over 100 metres at the Diamond League meeting in Rome on Thursday.

A sub-standard 10.04s run in Ostrava earlier in the month - his slowest time as a professional - had led to concern in some quarters about the Jamaican's form going into London 2012, but Bolt put all those doubts to rest with a 9.76s run into a slight headwind that also included a less than spectacular start.

It was both a meeting record and the fastest time in the event this year.

"A slight sense of relief - I knew I could do it but after Ostrava I decided I needed to go to bed early and start eating right," Bolt told the BBC. "It felt good.

"People expect people to do well all the time, but I expect that of me also. So it's not really pressure for me. I just told myself I've still got it and go on from here."

Asafa Powell, slowing down at the line, finished a distant second in a time of 9.91s, while Christoph Lemaitre was third in a time of 10.04s. Powell suggested afterwards that he could not really hear the starter's pistol.

"I didn't hear the start," Powell said. "That's how it goes.

"I know I can beat [Usain]. I just need to come back and do it."

Elsewhere, there were victories for British athletes in both the high jump and long jump - as Robbie Grabarz won the former with a world-leading jump of 2.33m and Greg Rutherford claimed the latter with a 8.32m attempt.

There was bad news for Team GB earlier in the day, however, as Dai Greene was forced to withdraw from the 400m hurdles due to a virus. In Greene's absence, Puerto Rico's Javier Culson won in 48.14s, with American Bershawn Jackson second in 48.25s.

There was also an impressive performance from Kenyan Paul Koech in the 3000m steeplechase, as he ran the third fastest time ever in the event.

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