MONACO: Jamaican sprint superstar Usain Bolt ran a season’s best of 9.95 seconds to win the 100m at Friday’s Diamond League in Monaco.
In his second appearance in Europe in his farewell season, Bolt produced a trademark strong second segment to beat out American Isiah Young by 0.03sec.
Bolt, winner of eight Olympic and 11 world gold medals, will bring down the curtain on his glittering career at August’s world championships in London.
But for the moment, it remains entertainment, and Bolt, as he has done consistently throughout his career, played to the sell-out 17,000-capacity crowd at the Louis II Stadium when introduced in warm, balmy weather.
Starting in lane four, Bolt was second slowest out of the blocks, the 100 and 200m world record holder easily matched by Young in lane two.
The crowd, on their feet, roared, and so Bolt responded as he has so many times before, moving into his famed “drive phase”, head coming slowly up as part of the process that unleashes the full power from his long legs.
The towering Jamaican duly powered home, even easing up over the line, with Young in second and South African Akani Simbine in third (10.02) in a photo-finish from Britain’s Chijindu Ujah.
“It was good,” Bolt said of his 53rd sub-10sec 100m.
“I’m going in the right direction, although there is still a lot of work to do. Sub-10 is always good.
“There are always mixed emotions, I’m happy for my career but sad that it is ending.”
A bemused Bolt, however, was denied the chance of a lap of honour as the men’s 3000m steeplechase, won by American Evan Jager, was staged just after, meaning the Jamaican was hustled off the track.
He later came back on, to fireworks and synchronised cheerleading in which he even took part.
While Bolt’s winning time was far off his world record of 9.58sec, set back at the Berlin world championships in 2009, it at least broke that 10-sec barrier, for the first time this season.
Bolt has struggled to produce his best form this season, running 10.03 in Kingston and 10.06 in Ostrava in his only two outings, well behind rising US star Christian Coleman’s world-leading 9.82 in Oregon last month
Young said he was honoured to have got close to the Jamaican, who turns 31 next month and has been a regular visitor to the principality off the track, having received the IAAF Athlete of the Year award six times.
“I was thinking you’d need 9.8sec to win today, but at the end of the day it was 9.9 that made it,” he said.
“I’m happy I was there and so close to Bolt at the end of his great career.
“A couple of days ago I was told I will run the 200m in London so this sub-10 is great preparation for that.
“I need to execute well and then I can attack a medal in that event.”