Usain Bolt returned to the site of his last Olympic triumph, recovering from a slow start to win the 100 meters Friday night in the Anniversary Games in his best time this season.
The world’s fastest man failed to leave the blocks promptly, but powered through the field at the Diamond League meet. He finished in 9.85 seconds at the stadium where he won three gold medals last year in the London Games.
Bolt, who holds the world records in the 100 and 200, is looking to do even better at the world championships in Moscow next month.
"It (the start) was horrifying for me," he said. "I think it is just race rust and I just need to get a few races in. The rounds in the world championships will help that and get my legs freer and a bit lighter. Hopefully the coach will figure out what I need to do to get me more explosive out of the blocks, I guess.
"For the first time, I think, in a long while I was slightly nervous. Initially, I was excited to come out because I knew it was going to be a big crowd. But when I got out there and I saw that it was ram-packed and the energy was still like the Olympics, it was just wonderful, so I was slightly nervous but I loved the energy of the crowd. It was beautiful and I love competing here."
With track and field reeling from a slew of doping headlines involving stars such as Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell, Bolt wants the focus to return to a happier narrative.
"I try to assist the sport to do great things and to show the sport in a good light, and that is what I’m here for," the Jamaican said. "You guys are here to tell people that Usain Bolt is needed for the sport or whatever, but I am just here to do my best and to prove to the world that it is possible to run clean and train hard and be focused."
American Michael Rodgers was second in 9.98, and Jamaica’s Nesta Carter was third. Kim Collins of Saint Kitts and Nevis faded to finish fourth after a fantastic start.
The standout performance of the night was by high jumper Bohdan Bondarenko, who threatened the 20-year world record held by Cuba’s Javier Sotomayor.
Despite failing at his only attempt to clear 7 feet, 11 1/2 inches, Bondarenko asked for the bar to be raised to 8-1 1/4 as he took aim at Sotomayor’s mark of 8-0 1/2.
The Ukrainian failed twice but still won the competition at 7-9 3/4.
In the 200, Warren Weir of Jamaica, who won bronze a year ago, edged compatriot Jason Young by 0.1 to win in 19.89. Wallace Spearmon of the United States was third in 20.18.
Nick Symmonds led a podium sweep for the United States in the 800 with a time of 1:43.67. Duane Solomon and Brandons Jones followed.
Olympic champion Kirani James of Grenada comfortably won the 400 in 44.65, beating Tony McQuay and Jonathan Borlee.
Zusana Hejnova warmed up for the athletics world championships in Moscow next month by cruising to victory in the 400 hurdles. The Czech won in a world-leading time of 53.07.
Perri Shakes-Drayton of Britain led going into the home straight but was overtaken by the 2012 Olympic bronze medalist on the approach to the last hurdle.
Shakes-Drayton was second. Georganne Moline edged out fellow American Kori Carter to finish third.
Shannon Rowbury ran the fastest time of the year in the 3,000 to lead a podium sweep for the United States, finishing in 8:41.46. Gabriele Anderson was second, just ahead of Molly Huddle.
Britain won the 400 relay in the fastest time the country has run in 12 years. Ashleigh Nelson anchored a team of Annabelle Lewis, Anyika Onuora and Dina Asher-Smith that finished in 42.69. Their slick changeovers helped them beat the All-Stars team of Aileen Bailey, Tiffany Townsend, Jeneba Tarmoh and Mandy White. France was third.
Brenda Martinez of the U.S. surged to victory in the 800, pulling clear heading into the home straightaway to finish in 1:58.19. Elena Mirela Lavric of Romania and American teenager Ajee Wilson were next.
Mary Kuria of Kenya clocked 4:08.77 to win the 1,500, ahead of Ibtissam Lakhouad and Katie Mackey.