Bolt, who’s trying to sweep the 100m and 200m races again for the third straight Olympics, breezed through the first heat.
He posted a time of 10.07 seconds, which easily qualified him for the semifinals at 8pm EST on Sunday (Aug 14). The finals, which you can bet on here at GTBets, will take place at 9:25 EST on Sunday.
Bolt seemed to be toying with the competition, almost jogging the second half of the race. Bahrain’s Andrew Fisher (10.12 seconds) began to close on him, which prompted Bolt to speed up a little to secure the win.
“It wasn’t the best start,” Bolt said afterward. “I felt kind of slow.”
Almost 30 years old, Bolt is attempting to become the first man to win three consecutive 100-meter gold medals. It’s unclear whether he has another world record in him after dealing with a hamstring injury and inactivity.
For most mortals, this would be a death knell on a stage where one needs to be their best to medal. But Bolt is no normal athlete, and South African competitor Akani Simbine thinks that the Jamaican is once again the favorite to bring home gold.
“Most definitely,” Simbine said of Bolt’s chances of winning. “He’s the king. If he puts it together, he’ll win.”
Rodman Teltull of Palau, a Pacific Island Nation, told Yahoo Sports that he isn’t confident in his or anybody else’s chances of beating Bolt.
“I’m going to beat him,” said Teltull, before laughing and adding. “Ten years from now.”
Not everybody is ready to concede. American Trayvon Bromell, who qualified for the semis (10.13), isn’t intimidated by running against the world’s fastest man.
“I don’t really get excited about racing Bolt,” said Bromell. “I’m just here to do my job.”
Bromell and the other competitors will need to step up if Bolt runs anywhere close to what he’s capable of doing. The 6’5″ sprinter owns both the 100m world record (9.58) and Olympic record (9.63).
What’s more is that he also drew a full stadium in what would otherwise be a mundane day of first-heat qualifiers. Fans went crazy and numerous mobile phone cameras snapped photos of Bolt as he walked to the starting block. They also chanted his name and created a deafening sound.
It didn’t take Bolt long to win over the Brazilian crowd, as they also stomped their feet for him, and continued chanting up until the start of the race. There were also plenty of high fives in the stands after he cruised to victory.
“He just steps onto the track and the crowd goes crazy,” said Simbine. “It was wild. He brings a whole different atmosphere.”
Perhaps more than any runner at the Olympics, Bolt is a showman, which he showed by doing is patented bow-and-arrow move after winning.
Justin Gatlin, another medal hopeful, also appreciated the crowd and atmosphere.
“The crowd was great,” said Gatlin, who turned in the day’s best time at 10.03. “It’s the culture to party.”
Despite Gatlin’s fast time, this still seem’s like Bolt’s race to lose. He beat the fastest 100m field ever assembled in London – some of which are in Rio. The competition wasn’t even close, which makes one wonder if, four years later, anybody can dethrone the champion.
And what’s scary is that Bolt didn’t even feel his best.
“Hopefully tomorrow I’ll come out and I’ll feel much better,” he said.