The highpoint of the first day of the XVI IAAF World Championships in Athletics at the Olympic Park Stadium in London was all about the first chapter of a grand farewell from international competition for Jamaica and the world’s sprinting legend, Usain Bolt.
In the final of six heats the big man took the win in 10.07 seconds, to be ranked in an irrelevant 8th position going to the semi-finals on Saturday evening (5 August), as he was in relaxed mode. His countryman, Julian Forte threatened to steal the spotlight from the championships celebrant, posting the top qualifier of a 9.99 personal best in winning heat 3. A third Jamaican Yohan Blake, the 2013 champion was second in heat 2 with an unperturbed 10.13.
The only other Caribbean athlete in the advancing mix, at 19th position, was Cejhae Greene of Antigua, 3rd in heat one with 10.21.
Exiting at this stage, were Ramon Gittens of Barbados, 5th in heat one with 10.24, Emmanuel Callender (TTO), 5th in heat two, 10.25, Keston Bledman (TTO), 4th in heat five, 10.26, Senoj-Jay Givans (JAM), 7th in heat one, 10.30, Warren Fraser (BAH), 7th in heat six, 10.42 and Mario Burke (BAR), 6th in heat three, 10.42. Chavaughn Walsh of Antigua did not start.
In the first event of the afternoon’s schedule, the preliminary round for athletes who had not achieved the entry standard of 10.12, Burke, Gittens, Fraser and Walsh made it to the heats in respective times of 10.22, 10.25, 10.30 and 10.44. Gittens was the only one to win his heat with the others in runner-up positions.
There was much joy for Jamaican viewers in the Stadium and elsewhere, as Fedrick Dacres and his former schoolmate, Traves Smikle, with their high school coach Julian Robinson on the staff in London, both advanced to Saturday’s (5 Aug) final of the men’s discus throw event. First up, was Smikle who got a provisional qualifier of 63.23m for 7th spot in Group A. Dacres followed suit with an automatic qualifying mark of 64.82m to make the cut from Group B in fifth spot overall. Event leader is Swede world leader, Daniel Stahl on 67.64m.
Long jumpers representing the Carifta region had mixed fortunes in the men’s version of that event. Jamaica’s Damar Forbes was the lucky one as his 7.93m from Group A made it to the final 12 but not so fortunate was Bermudan, Tyrone Smith whose 7.88m from Group B saw him on the brink of advancing in 13th position. The other Jamaican, Ramone Bailey was way out of the money finishing in 21st spot overall with a 7.76m effort.
Day Two will see a return to the traditional two sessions of competition where the main feature will be a moment not to be missed – the final competition by the great Usain Bolt with the 100m final at 16.45 ECT providing he makes it from the semifinals, two hours and forty minutes earlier.