Usain Bolt’s quest to retain his IAAF World Championships 100-metre crown got underway on Saturday, as he breezed through the heats to make the semi-finals.
The Jamaican lined up in the sixth lane for Heat 7 alongside the talented likes of Mike Rodgers and Churandy Martina, but he cruised to victory.
His time of 9.96 seconds narrowly pipped Rodgers at the post, while Martina and Levi Cadogan also qualified for the semis with times just over 10 seconds.
Here’s a look at the full list of times from Bolt’s heat:
|Men's 100m Heat 7 Times|
|8||Md Fakhri Ismail||10.72|
|IAAF World Championships|
The Olympic champion was his usual casual self when he crossed the line as he slowed to a jog, but his opening 20 metres wasn’t the best.
Former athlete Michael Johnson was similarly concerned, as he labelled Bolt “clunky” following the race—via BBC Sport:
"I'm not pleased with this at all. It looks clunky. It's not Usain Bolt. His first 20 metres has to be better. I think he's holding back a little bit, but things are not there for Usain Bolt."
Still, the Jamaican himself wasn’t concerned, as he said that he was overthinking the start but did what he needed to do to get the job done:
"I was thinking about the start too much. Overall it was ok, I didn't use too much stress. I'm trying to get business done, that's all."
You get the sense that Bolt still has plenty left in the tank, too, and it seems he’s just trying to keep everybody guessing.
We’ll only see the best of the sprinter when it comes to his final showdown with Justin Gatlin. Until then, the track will remain nothing more than Bolt’s playground and the setting for his mind games.