MOSCOW (Reuters) - Usain Bolt ignored the false start by his nearest rival, reviving memories of the Jamaican’s disqualification from the 2011 100m final, to safely negotiate his first foray at the world championships on Saturday.
Bolt, with a wave and a quick salute to an appreciative Luzhniki stadium crowd pre-race, but no smiles or elaborate gestures, eased down the straight in 10.07 seconds to earn his passage to the semi-finals on Sunday. The final is at 1750 GMT on Sunday evening.
Running in the last of seven first-round heats, Bolt kept his composure after Kemar Hyman of the Cayman Islands, running in lane four, directly to Bolt’s right, false-started and was disqualified.
Olympic champion and world record holder Bolt infamously suffered the same fate two years ago in Daegu, South Korea, forced to walk away as compatriot Yohan Blake took his world title.
“I’m happy with my run. I took it easy as it was the first round. I just wanted to get my reaction and start right. The false start in my heat didn’t affect me - I did that mistake in Daegu and now I’m staying focused,” Bolt told reporters.
“I’m excited about the world championships. I was really looking forward for this time to come.”
Track and field desperately needs showman Bolt to dazzle in Moscow, with the sport suffering another body blow last month after former world record holder Asafa Powell and 2007 world champion and fastest man this year Tyson Gay failing doping tests.
With training partner Blake injured and recuperating at home, 2009 double champion Bolt appears to have both the 100 and 200 titles at his mercy.
Apart from Hyman’s disqualification, there was little drama in the heats where the leading protagonists flexed their muscles and fast times were in short supply.
American Mike Rodgers set the fastest qualifying time with 9.98, one of only two men to dip under 10 seconds.
Former double world champion Justin Gatlin, third behind Bolt in last year’s Olympic final, clocked 9.99 and the American represents the greatest threat to Bolt’s dominance.
Bolt was not the fastest Jamaican in the heats, Kemar Bailey-Cole clocking 10.02 to open proceedings,
Trinidad & Tobago’s Keston Bledman’s also stopped the clock at 10.02, while China’s Zhang Peimeng caused a stir in winning heat two - the 26-year-old’s 10.04 a national record.
Editing by Mitch Phillips and Alison Wildey