Sprint kings cruise, Pistorius makes history


World record holder Usain Bolt and world champion Yohan Blake stormed onto centre-stage at the Olympics on Saturday as amputee runner Oscar Pistorius made history. Defending champion Bolt clocked 10.09sec in his first round heat for the blue riband event of the London Games while Jamaican compatriot Blake timed 10sec dead.
However, both men were upstaged in front of 80,000 people at the Olympic Stadium by the 9.88sec run by America’s Ryan Bailey. Former Olympic champion Justin Gatlin clocked 9.97sec while Tyson Gay, the world double sprint champion from Osaka in 2007, came through the line in 10.08sec. “I expected it, I’m running well, I’m happy, training is great. Reaction was good,” said Bolt, whose build-up to the Games had been hit by a number of worrying niggles. “I’m looking forward to the semifinals.” South Africa’s Pistorius marked his landmark occasion by qualifying for the 400m semi-finals with a season’s best of 45.44sec. But LaShawn Merritt pulled up in his heat and limped off the track. Pistorius, who had both legs amputated below the knee before he was aged one, because of a congenital condition, runs on carbon fibre blades.
“It’s just an experience to be here. It’s a dream come true,” said Pistorius, whose time was the 16th fastest overall. “It’s just an unbelievable experience. I found myself smiling on the starting blocks which is very rare and as I came out of the tunnel I saw my friends and family here.” Merritt, who has struggled back from a doping ban disgrace, stopped running after 250 metres of his heat and crossed the line at walking pace. “This was my life’s race,” said the 26-year-old defending champion. “I have been around a long time, but I am still young.” The American won the chance to compete at London by taking the title at last month’s US Olympic trials in 44.12sec, the fastest time in the world this year. The women’s 100m gold will be decided in Saturday’s evening session. Women’s double Olympic polevault champion Yelena Isinbayeva safely negotiated qualifying for Monday’s final. On the busiest day of the Games so far, with 25 golds to be won, Britain moved into third place in the medals table after two more golds were secured in rowing. Alex Gregory, Pete Reed, Tom James and Andrew Triggs Hodge led from the first stroke for a fourth successive fours title while Katherine Copeland and Sophie Hosking clinched lightweight double sculls gold.