• Bolt headlines Rome meet, Chemos runs world lead in Steeplechase

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May 27, 2011-

World record holder Usain Bolt despite a very poor start came through his first competition for nine months when winning over 100 metres at the Compeed Golden Gala, the third stop on the Samsung Diamond League series in Rome on Thursday.

The world's fastest man despite being the third last sprinter in the nine man field to emerge from his blocks, quickly regained his posture to speed down the track of the 1960 Olympic Stadium and win in a time of 9.91 seconds (+0.6sec wind). 

At one stage it looked as if the reigning World and Olympic gold medallist would come a cropper as Asafa Powell, the man who preceded him as World record holder, opened what looked like a winning gap.

But Bolt, 15 metres from the finishing line, suddenly turned on the gas and with an electrifying burst got alongside his fellow Jamaican and then passed him.

Powell, seemingly gasping for breath close to the finish line, clocked a season's best of 9.93sec, as did France's European champion Christophe Lemaitre who ran 10 seconds dead for third.

Bolt's late surge brought him home just 0.02sec away from the current 9.98 world season lead held by Steve Mullings, another athlete from his country's highly talented pack of sprinters.  

"I got through my first race I was so nervous," said a very relieved Bolt. "I got a bad start and then kind of started to panic.”

Fortunately on the credit side Bolt showed no signs of the Achilles or back injury which caused him to abandon his season as a precautionary measure after his defeat at the hands of Gay in Stockholm last August.

The 24-year-old whose top priority is defending his IAAF World Championships crowns in Daegu in three months’ time, believes after a few tweaks he can attain that ambition.

"But I am getting there," he said of his pre-event intention of 'getting back into business'.  "My coach will analyse the race - I was not proud of the race.”

Bolt with a huge crowd watching his return and who thoroughly enjoyed his ‘showboat entertainment’ added: “This is my first time in Rome and I appreciated the reaction of the crowd.”

But he left the stadium a relieved man after only catching Powell with his last gasp attack. "Well I guess for him it was different because he had already started his season," Bolt said. "He was already in the season. Unlike me.”

Kenyan Milcah Chemos always looking comfortable claimed another four valuable points for her tally when adding to her Doha success with another 3000m steeplechase win.

Chemos lowered her world leading time for the year to 9:12.89, while behind her Sofia Assefa set an Ethiopian record of 9:15.04 with Tunisia's Habiba Ghribi third in a season's best 9:20.33.

After following pacemaker and fellow Kenyan Lydiah Chepkurui through the first kilometre in 3:01:47, Chemos took over the lead when her compatriot dropped out with 3 1/2 laps remaining. The 25-year-old World Championships bronze medallist, who only became a steeplechaser four months before that 2009 achievement  in Berlin, then gradually wound the pace up going through 2km in 6:10.53. 

Assefa and Ghribi were still contenders at the bell, but Chemos last year's Diamond Race champion, increased her momentum to score another important win.  

In fourth place came Ethiopia’s Birtukan Adamu in 9:20.37, a time which subject to official ratification will be a new World Junior record, improving the 9:22.51 time of her compatriot Almaz Ayana set in Brussels on 5 October 2010.

Reigning Diamond Race 5000m champion Imane Merga retained his Compeed Golden Gala crown when using his powerful finishing speed to win in 12:54.21. On the final circuit the Ethiopian confidently contained the threat of his fellow African rivals to score a close victory ahead of Kenyans Isaiah Koech and Vincent Chepkok.

Koech still only 17, finished narrowly behind Merga in an outstanding personal best of 12:54.59, while Chepkok who did much of the pace-making in the latter stages clocked 12:55.99.

Kenyans also found the going tough in the men’s 800m won by American Khadevis Robinson(1:45.09) who beat South African Mbulaeni Mulaudzi to second. Mulaudzi clocked 1:45.50 with Kuwait’s Mohammed Al-Azemi third in 1:45.52.

Asbel Kiprop(1:46.02),Boaz Lalang(1:46.10), David Mutua(1:46.64) and Richard Kiplagat(1:46.88) occupied the next four positions with World champion Alfred Kirwa struggling to finish a distant 11th in 1:48.73.






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