Usain Bolt kicks off worlds like only he can

AP, Saturday 27 Aug 2011

Usain Bolt kicked off his world championships like only the golden Jamaican can—with a blazing start that blew all opposition away halfway through his 100-meter heat Saturday

Usain Bolt

Bolt coasted for the second half of the race for the day’s best time of 10.10 seconds, a ho-hum mark by his standards. But because of the way he shot out of the blocks like lightning, the result on the scoreboard looked more like two perfect 10s for style.

“I got a great start and I’m happy with that,” Bolt said. “I feel great.”

The Kenyans also were perfect twice on the opening day of the championships. The African nation swept both the women’s marathon and 10,000 to finish the day six-for-six in medals.

Bolt is expected to claim three golds himself by the time the championships end next weekend. And he proved his form is matching his unsurpassed braggadocio.

Two hours before his heat, Bolt was already dancing and prancing in the warm-up area. Getting to the track itself, he was quickly showing off his Jamaican shirt, slicking his hair and goatee to a crowd which was disappointingly halved after the 53,000 fans had earlier celebrated the opening ceremony.

Those who stayed saw the great Bolt for 50 meters, showing off the power that earned him three gold medals at both the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2009 world championships in Berlin.

Now he is heading for the tough part—the semifinals and likely final on Sunday. He still has the 200 and 4x100 relays coming up next week.

On Sunday, though, it was difficult to outdo the Kenyans, even for Bolt.

Edna Kiplagat crashed chest-forward on the street late in the marathon only to recover and lead her nation to an unprecedented sweep in the race. The women in the 10,000 were just as perfect in the only other final of the day.

Vivian Cheruiyot led a Kenyan sweep on the track as they dominated from halfway. All other challengers, including their Ethiopian rivals, failed to keep pace as Cheruiyot beat Sally Kipyego and defending champion Linet Masai.

Cheruiyot won in 30:48.98, holding an edge of 1.06 seconds over Kipyego. Cheruiyot will be seeking a long-distance double as she also is the defending champion in the 5,000.

“We were inspired by the marathon girls and we wanted to achieve the same,” Cheruiyot said.

Kiplagat certainly felt the stinging pain when she tangled up with teammate Sharon Cherop at one of the last water stations and suddenly was on all fours.

“I was a little shocked,” Kiplagat said. “What was in my mind was I wasn’t sure if I was going to pick up the pace again.”

Also shocked, Cherop helped pick up her veteran teammate and off they went again as a trio heading through the 27 degree C (80 degree F) morning heat and humidity of inland South Korea.

Kiplagat won in a slow 2:28:43 to claim the first gold medal of the competition.

Hard-pressed to equal their third-place finish in the medals table from two years ago, they gave Kenya the perfect start to the competition with Kiplagat, a 31-year-old mother of two, leading Priscah Jeptoo and Cherop to the line.

The three embraced and gingerly walked away, arms warmly interlocking to celebrate the victory. No nation had ever clinched such a triple since the championships started 28 years ago.

“I hope this result will give motivation to our Kenyan team members,” Jeptoo said.

David Rudisha added to Kenya’s cheer, coasting in qualifying for an 800-meter race he is heavily favored to win on Tuesday.

Kenya’s perfect start contrasted with the fortunes of Olympic 400 champion Christine Ohuruogu and Australian pole vaulter Steve Hooker.

The British runner was disqualified for a false start in her opening heat and the defending pole vault champion from Australia no-heighted in qualification, both seeing their injury-marred season get even worse.

“Just mentally, it wasn’t there. I had no confidence in what I was doing out there,” Hooker said. “I wasn’t feeling it.”

Ohuruogu could be one of the biggest local stars of the London Olympics next year, but she missed her chance to win another world title in the biggest warmup for the games.

The 2007 world champion stood in stunned silence for more than a minute after she was disqualified for her false start and given a red card.

Allyson Felix and Sanya Richards-Ross easily went into Sunday’s semifinals— Felix with effortless grace and Richards-Ross putting in her big push in the final stretch to beat Jamaican rival Shericka Williams.

American decathlon favorites Ashton Eaton and Trey Hardee led the standings.

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