Lightning Bolt gets Jamaican party started

Fastest man on the planet retains title in just 9.63sec – and that was after a poor start

It was Jamaican party time in London last night. Today is the 50th anniversary of the Caribbean island's independence from Britain but the celebrations started early, as Usain Bolt hared down the 100m straight in London's showpiece arena to retain his Olympic 100m crown in style.

Any doubts about the form and fitness of the Lightning Bolt were blown away as the Caribbean phenomenon shot past the American Justin Gatlin and his training partner Yohan Blake to claim a clear victory in 9.63sec. Blake made it a Jamaican one-two, taking silver in 9.75, with Gatlin third in 9.79.

But no one could touch the star of Beijing, where he won the 100m (9.69) and 200m (19.30) in world record times and helped the Jamaican 4x100m relay squad to do likewise. Twelve months later he improved his world record times at the World Championships in Berlin, clocking 9.58 and 19.19, but since then his shield of invincibility has been pierced.

The scoliosis that plagued him as a teenage prodigy returned. There was a loss to Tyson Gay in Stockholm in August 2010 and two to Blake, over 100m and 200m, at the Jamaican trials in Kingston last month. There was the false start disqualification in last year's World Championship 100m final. There was a hamstring injury.

Still, Bolt arrived in London saying he was "95 per cent" fit and ready to roll in his quest to become "a legend" as the first man to successfully defend the blue riband Olympic 100m crown without a rival failing a drugs test, which elevated Carl Lewis from silver to gold in Seoul in 1988.

In the heats on Saturday, he stumbled out of his blocks but moved into cruise control, and won with ease in 10.08. In the semi-finals last night, the acceleration was evident, taking Bolt a stride clear before he eased up to win in 9.87.

Dwain Chambers finished fourth in 10.06. Blake won his semi in 9.85, with Tyson Gay second in 9.90 and Adam Gemili, 18, an excellent third in 10.06.

It was not enough to take the Kent teenager through but it was a fine performance. "To come third against two of the best sprinters in the world is not too bad," Gemili said.

The third Briton, James Dasaolu clocked 10.18 for seventh place in his semi, won by Gatlin in 9.82.

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