Justin Gatlin, Nickel Ashmeade and Olympic champion and World record-holder Usain Bolt won the three semi-finals of the men’s 100m as the evening session got under way on the Luzhniki Stadium track.
First Gatlin, then Ashmeade set Russian all-comers’ records and there was a tie for the last spot in the final between Christophe Lemaitre and Zhang Peimeng of China. Both ran 10.00 – a national record for the latter – but as Lemaitre was given fourth place and Zhang fifth, it was the Frenchman who took the last spot in the final.
Three semi-finals, with only the first two in each and next two fastest to advance – it’s a competitive situation that tends to sharpen the mind and reflexes to a needle point. Not too sharp, mind you, as a false start spells immediate doom.
Su Bingtian of China found this out to his cost, disqualified for a false start in the first semi-final.
The pattern of the race was settled by the 30-metre mark. Gatlin had a narrow edge over Nesta Carter, who was also clear of Jimmy Vicaut.
So it went to the line, Gatlin winning in 9.94 – a Russian all-comers’ record – from Carter, 9.97, and Vicaut, 10.01. Vicaut, a finalist in Daegu, missed out this time by 0.01.
World University Games dual sprint champion Anaso Jobadwana of South Africa and Beijing 2008 Olympic silver medallist Richard Thompson from Tinidad and Tobago were the next finishers, almost two metres behind Vicaut.
As in the heats, Gatlin’s record was short-lived.
After an aborted start at the first attempt, Nickel Ashmeade and Kemar Bailey-Cole turned out a Jamaican 1-2 in the second semi.
Ashmeade, better known as a 200m man until the past two years, led throughout to win in 9.90, with Bailey-Cole just behind in 9.93.
Britain’s James Dasaolu, who broke through to 9.91 in the semi-finals of the UK Championships earlier in the year but did not run the final, ran 9.97, the second-best time of his career, for third.
Missing the final by thousandths of a second was a double blow for Zhang as he also missed his goal of running the first sub-10 by an Asian sprinter. As a consolation, he improved his own Chinese record by 0.04.
Then came the third semi with Usain Bolt. He is not the defending champion, having false-started out of the Daegu final, but merely the centre of all attention.
Mike Rodgers of the US got away best and still led Bolt into the last 40 metres. But Bolt’s giant strides ate up the margin and he cruised home to win by a hundredth, 9.92 to 9.93.
Keston Bledman of Trinidad was third in 10.08. Asian record-holder Samuel Francis of Qatar, who limped across the line in his heat, was unable to take his place in the semi-final.
The semi-finals were run in almost still conditions, with the temperature still up in the high 20s.
Len Johnson for the IAAF