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Thursday, June 7, 2012

London 2012 Olympics: Usain Bolt wins Diamond League 100m showdown with Asafa Powell in 9.79 sec

Usain Bolt was made to work for victory in the 100 metres at Thursday night's Diamond League meeting in Oslo, where there was disappointment for the British contingent of Mark Lewis-Francis and Jessica Ennis who were disqualified for false starts.

Jamaica's world record holder blamed a new type of starting blocks after finding himself in the unusual position of second behind compatriot Asafa Powell with 10 metres to go, before edging ahead to win in a meeting record of 9.79seconds. "The blocks have changed from last season," the Olympic champion said. "For me, when I came on the blocks, the reaction was good but the execution - because I was less comfortable - from the blocks was not that good. I'm not very happy with my new blocks. I think I need to go back to the old blocks.

"When I get everything all right, I can really relax and be myself. Now there are a few things I need to work on, so in trying to get those things first and then I can get back to be myself," Bolt added.

After crossing the line, Bolt collided with a flower girl on the track, catching her as she stumbled and then hugging her with a big grin on his face.

Powell's time of 9.85 was his best of the season and Lerone Clarke completed a top three Jamaican sweep with a time of 10.10sec. Powell, who had been well beaten by Bolt in Rome a week ago appeared much happier with his performance this time out.

"It was a season best, which is what I need right now, to keep improving," the former world record holder told reporters.

Britain supplied two of the supporting cast members for Thursday’s sprint showdown though neither were able to steal the show. Mark Lewis-Francis suffered the ignominy of being disqualified for a false start while Marlon Devonish finished sixth in an underwhelming 10.40sec.

The world 400m hurdles champion, Dai Greene, insists that winning Diamond League races is of no importance to him this season and that his training programme has been geared to peaking for the Olympics.

One can only trust he and his coach, Malcolm Arnold, know what they are doing because Greene showed none of the strength and power that carried him to the world title in Daegu last summer as he struggled home in fourth place last night in a weary 49.98sec.

A long way ahead of him was Javier Culson, the Puerto Rican who took the silver in Daegu but has looked the man to beat all season. His winning time of 47.92sec was the fastest in the world this year and has been bettered by Greene only once in his career.

Greene, who appeared to be running out of gas in the straight, said: “It was disappointing. I’m not going to lie, I wanted a lot more. I didn’t think I was going to run as fast as Culson but I just didn’t feel quite as fresh as I did a few weeks ago.” In mitigation, Greene was forced to pull out of last week’s Rome Golden Gala with a stomach virus and he admitted his preparation had not been ideal.

“I thought I could have gone about four tenths faster,” said the Welshman. “That was the target in my head. I ran very aggressively from the start but it was a struggle from hurdle seven onwards. Hopefully, things will get a bit easier in the future.”

The eagerly awaited Olympic 5,000m showdown between Mo Farah and defending Olympic champion Kenenisa Bekele is in danger of not even happening after the Ethiopian trailed home in fifth place in the 5,000m here. The race had been nominated by the Ethiopian athletics federation as an Olympic trial and, unfortunately for Bekele, the four athletes who finished ahead of him were all compatriots, leaving him in serious peril of missing out on London.

Bekele has yet to run under 13 minutes this season, though he insisted that he still had time to post a quick enough to catch the selectors’ eyes because the final decision would not be made for several weeks.

“I don’t give up hope,” said Bekele. “I still have time. No problem, I will make it.” Thursday’s race was won by Dejen Gebremeskel, the 5,000m bronze medallist at last year’s World Championships, in 12min 58.92sec, though Farah still leads the world rankings after his 12min 56.88sec in Eugene, Oregon, last Friday.

Jessica Ennis had a mixed night after recording her third-quickest ever time of 12.83sec in the semi-finals of the 100m hurdles only to be disqualified from the final for a false start. Victory went to Australian world champion Sally Pearson with a world-leading time of 12.49sec in her first outdoor race of the European season. Britain’s Tiffany Porter showed her own Olympic medal credentials by taking some big scalps in finishing third in 12.70sec.

Abi Oyepitan turned back the clock with her best 200m time in eight years to finish in second place in her race in 22.71sec — the fastest time this year by a UK runner and well within the Olympic ‘A’ qualifying standard.

The last time she ran so quickly was at the 2004 Athens Olympics, where she reached the final. Having already secured the ‘A’ standard in the 100m, the Tony Lester-coached athlete now looks back to her best after years of injury problems.

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