Sprint king Usain Bolt left the Cayman Islands admitting he was a little “race rusty” but confident he will be back to his fluent best as he takes another step toward Olympic immortality.
Bolt holds the 100m and 200m world records and is bidding for a third successive hat-trick of gold medals in the sprint events and relay at the Rio Olympics in August.
He began his campaign for what he hopes will be a history-making season in George Town on Saturday at the Cayman Invitational, taking victory in the 100m in 10.05 seconds, ahead of American Dentarius Locke (10.12) and fellow Jamaican Kemar Bailey-Cole (10.18).
He accepted after the race that he was a little short of his fluent best, and is targeting an improved showing in Ostrava, in the Czech Republic, in his next outing on Friday.
“I didn’t feel smooth. It is hard to come into your first race and do extra well. I just need a few more runs to get fluent,” he said. “It wasn’t the best, but as long as I come out injury free, that’s the key thing.
“It’s just more races. My coach will determine what I need to work on, but right now it’s just more races. The more races I run, the better I will feel so I am just looking forward to running more races and see what happens.
“I am never worried,” he added. “I’ve been in worse situations. It’s just race rusty. I can tell. I could feel the difference from when you are flying from when you are not.”
Earlier in the evening, Jenna Prandini of the U.S. completed a sprint double, taking the women’s 100m in 11.16 and 200m in 22.63.
Machel Cedenio of Trinidad and Tobago won the men’s 800m crown in impressive style in 45.10, and Miguel Francis of Antigua and Barbuda won the men’s 200m in 20.16.
USA’s Kendra Harrison set a blistering pace in the women’s 100m hurdles, taking first place in 12.42. Her compatriot Spencer Adams won the men’s 110m hurdles in 13.48.
Cayman’s Ronald Forbes, who last month broke his own national record in the 110m hurdles, running 13.36 at an event in Florida, was unable to race due to injury.
Allyson Felix, gold medalist in the 200m at the Olympics in London, was also unable to compete because of injury.
Earlier in the evening, some of Cayman’s young track athletes tested themselves in a series of races involving club and high school athletes from overseas.
Among the standout performers were Dominic Dyer, who strode to victory in the under-20s 1500m in 4:11.67; Samuel Campbell of John Gray High School won the Under-14 400m in 1:00.36; and Cameila Gillespie of Cayman Brac took second in the girls 100m in 13.00.
After his race Dyer said it was inspiring to compete on such a stage.
“Usually when we race it is just parents in the stands. I got to meet Bolt and talk to him and get my Jamaican vest signed. This is a great event and just being around these athletes makes me want to push myself harder.”