- Kuwait Times Extra
LONDON: World record holder Usain Bolt and world champion Yohan Blake stormed onto centre-stage at the Olympics yesterday as amputee runner Oscar Pistorius and tennis star Serena Williams made history. Defending 100m champion Bolt clocked 10.09sec in his first round heat for the blue riband event of the Games while Jamaican compatriot Blake timed 10sec.
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 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.
Pistorius had both legs amputated below the knee before he was aged one, because of a congenital condition, and 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.
Defending champion LaShawn Merritt, who has struggled back from a doping ban, 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 American. “I have been around a long time, but I am still young.”
The women’s 100m gold will be decided in Saturday’s evening session while Jessica Ennis, the poster girl for the Games, was poised for heptathlon gold, opening a 188-point lead with just the 800m to run. Women’s double Olympic polevault champion Yelena Isinbayeva safely negotiated qualifying for tomorrow’s final.
Serena Williams clinched her first Olympic singles gold medal with a 6-0, 6-1 demolition of Maria Sharapova in the most one-sided women’s final in the history of the Games. Williams’ victory, which surpassed Suzanne Lenglen’s 6-3, 6-0 win over Dorothy Holman in 1920 in Antwerp, allowed her to become just the second woman to win a Golden Slam of all four major titles and Olympic singles gold.
“Oh my gosh, I got the gold. Wow, I’m so pumped,” said Serena, who could win a third doubles gold when she teams with sister Venus against Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova. 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. In badminton, Li Xuerui took the women’s singles title before Chinese compariots Zhao Yunlei and Tian Qing claimed the women’s doubles.
Later yesterday, American swimming icon Michael Phelps will bring the curtain down on his glittering Olympic career. After a slow start to his campaign, swimming legend Michael Phelps could well sign off with his fourth gold medal of the Games as he aims to consolidate his position as the most decorated Olympian in history.
The 27-year-old-who claimed a record eight golds in Beijing four years ago-will be strongly fancied to collect the 18th gold of his career, and his 22nd career Olympic medal, in Saturday’s 4x100m medley relay. In other highlights of the final day of action in the pool, China’s Sun Yang will attempt to complete a long distance double by adding the 1,500m crown to the 400m crown won earlier in the games.
Britain’s cyclists will attempt to extend their crushing dominance in the Velodrome, where the hosts have so far won three out of four gold on offer and are on course to match their Beijing haul of seven. The British team will expect to bag another gold in the women’s team pursuit after a world-record breaking performance to reach the final.-AFP
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