ZURICH — Usain Bolt had to work hard for his 100-meter victory in 9.90 seconds at the Weltklasse Diamond League meet on Thursday.
The world and Olympic champion had the slowest reaction time out of the starting blocks. Fellow Jamaican Nickel Ashmeade, running two lanes to his left, led deep into the race. But Bolt gritted his teeth and muscled through the slight headwind to reach the front after 85 meters.
He edged ahead of Ashmeade, who finished in 9.94 for second place. American Justin Gatlin was third in 9.96.
With a parade of new world champions in action, the sold-out Zurich stadium fell silent to watch Ukrainian high jumper Bohdan Bondarenko’s latest attempt to break the 20-year-old world record of 8 feet-1/2 set by Javier Sotomayor of Cuba.
However, Bondarenko crashed through the bar at 8-3/4. He’d earlier won the event with a jump of 7-7.
In the women’s 5,000 meters duel between Ethiopian greats, Meseret Defar surged ahead of Tirunesh Dibaba in the final straight.
Still, Bolt was the main attraction and put on a typical pre-race act for the crowd, taking center stage seconds after Bondarenko’s record attempt.
The sprinting superstar pressed his hands together in a prayer-like pose, head bowed before breaking into karate-style moves. He bowed again as the camera moved along the line.
On a cool evening, Bolt labored at the start and a rare defeat seemed possible at halfway.
Yet Bolt allowed himself a smile upon crossing the finish line, looking across to Ashmeade on his left and world silver medalist Gatlin to his right.