Usain Bolt powers to a 9.76 meet record in Rome (Giancarlo Colombo) © Copyright
Blowing away any doubts about his fitness and preparation state for the forthcoming Olympic Games after failing to break the 10 seconds barrier in Ostrava last Friday, the world's fastest man was simply awesome in the third leg of this year's Samsung Diamond League worldwide tour.
Bolt wasn't fastest out of the blocks but he quickly got into his stride pattern and inserting a burst of speed when hitting the front at the halfway point just went faster and faster to win ahead of Asafa Powell and Christophe Lemaitre.
The repeat of the podium places in last year's race saw Powell come home in a time of 9.91 while Lemaitre had to content himself with a season's fastest of 10.04.
Only Bolt, Gay and Powell have ever ran faster than the winning time which was achieved into a wind of 0.01sec and saw the crowd of just under 60,000 in Rome's 1960 Olympic Stadium screaming their worship of the 6ft 5in giant in his second visit to the Eternal City.
Before returning to the inner arena to entertain the crowd with an eccentric dancing display, Bolt said: "Since I arrived in Rome I made sure to be in bed early so I got a lot of rest and slept a lot.
"The race was much better than in Ostrava. The execution was not perfect but improved. I executed well. My drive was better and I started well. The transition was also better."
Bolt knowing he has his doubters, added: "After Ostrava a lot of people questioned me, but I never questioned myself. I am just happy with myself."
The other six world leading marks came with sensational performances on the track in the men's 3000m Steeplechase, women's 1500m and 5000m plus in the men's High Jump and women's Shot Put and Discus Throw.
Koech threatens World record
Defending SDL champion Paul Koech who was surprisingly left out of last year's Kenyan team for the World Championships, produced a stunning display to win the 3000m Steeplechase in the third fastest time ever witnessed.
Koech, who took the lead with three laps remaining, roared to a time of 7:54.31 which has only been bettered by Saif Saaeed Shaheen' eight-year-old world record of 7:53.63 and Brimin Kipruto's mark which was only 0.01sec slower than that in Monaco last summer.
He decimated the world lead of 7:56.58 he set in Doha at the opening SDL event of the season with his uninhibited display which also saw him lower the meet record of 7:56.34 posted by Shaheen in 2005 when he finished runner up.
Behind him there were three fellow Kenyans: Abel Mutai earned a personal best of 8:01.67 in second and Jairus Birech (8:08.79) who was third, while reigning World champion Ezekiel Kemboi who beforehand claimed he was in 7:55 shape for his season's opener, was relegated to fourth place in 8:10.55.
Koech admitted: "I was targeting the World record during training and I hoped to achieve it here in Rome but I am not disappointed because I achieved a new PB and now I am confident."
"At the Kenyan Trials I have to try my best. Last year I missed selection. I guess it is easier for me to run well in Europe because of the altitude in Kenya. I think I am now capable of running the World record."
Aregawi stuns with 3:56.54 Ethiopian national record
Abeba Aregawi whose 2011 summer season was curtailed after four out of four wins on the indoor circuit showed her vast future potential when slamming her rivals in a very speedy 1500m encounter which produced a world lead of 3:56.54 which was an Ethiopian national and meeting record.
The 21-year-old, who brought her personal best down from 4:01.96 to 3:59.23 behind fellow countrywoman Genzebe Dibaba who set a National record of 3:57.77, the world's fastest for two years at the SDL Shanghai meet a fortnight ago, sliced a hefty chunk from that time with a fantastic last 300 metres.
Aregawi shot past her predecessor at that point to open a huge gap ahead of Kenyan Helen Obiri who finished in a personal best 3:59.68 with a spent Dibaba third in 4:00.85.
"It was a surprise for me to win but an even bigger surprise is the time," said Aregawi. "I knew I was back on the scene already in Shanghai but the weather conditions were better here and I felt great."
"It was a bad year in 2011 as I had the right knee injury. Now I am ready to run fast times and hope to keep the shape until the Olympic fights."
In fierce clash, Cheruiyot again prevails over Defar
In a nailbiting finish in the 5000m, Vivian Cheruiyot barely managed to hold off arch rival Meseret Defar by just 0.03sec in a world leading time of 14:35.62.
The Kenyan and Ethiopian pair had fought a similar battle which went to the wire over 3000m at the SDL Doha meet but this one was even closer as they build up to the fast approaching Olympic Games.
After Gelete Burka had led from 3000 metres the contest erupted over the final circuit when just after the bell Cheruiyot hit the front then Defar came alongside her with 300 remaining.
Cheruiyot, last year's World 5000 and 10,000, gold medallist, continued to force the pace and in the home straight had to fight every inch of the way - indeed with her final strides it seemed Defar had edged her - but she managed to hold on for a thrilling victory.
Former World junior Cross Country and 1500m champion Viola Kibiwott was left for dead in the chase for the tape but managed a season's best for third place in 14:39.53.
"The race was not bad - the last 200 are getting more and more important," said Cheruiyot. "I think that Meseret Dedfar is coming back, she is a top lady."
Flying high - Grabarz surprises
Robbie Grabarz continued his massive improvement this year when keeping a clean sheet throughout the High Jump competition to win with a world lead and personal best clearance of 2.33m.
The 24-year-old Briton, whose previous best was four centimetres lower, lifted himself to new heights as he took some notable scalps including all of last year's World Championship medallists.
Trevor Barry, the bronze medallist in Daegu ,and gold medallist Jesse Williams shared second position with season's best performances of 2.31m. Silver medallist Aleksey Dmitrik ended up last with a lowly effort of 2.20m.
Adams again beyond 21 metres
In her first competition since winning the World Indoor Championship gold medal, Valerie Adams had no problems, chalking up an easy victory when the only competitor to throw over 20 metres.
The biggest from the reigning Olympic champion, basing herself in Magglingen, Switzerland, before the defence of her Games title, came in the fourth round with a World lead and meeting record of 21.03m.
Lijiao Gong after moving into second spot in the fifth round with 19.72m improved by seven centimetres for second as World silver medallist Nadezhda Ostapchuk struggled throughout the competition.
Ostapchuk, winner of the opening contest in Doha, managed only one valid throw of 19.58m in the opening round and then clutched her left knee after every other attempt.
Spotakova bounces back in last round
Olympic champion Barbora Spotakova, beaten into second place by World gold medallist Mariya Abakamova at the opening SDL meet in Doha looked to have the javelin title tied up when moving from fifth to top position with a an effort of 65.54m in the fifth round.
However World bronze medallist Sunette Viljoen stunned the entire field when with her last attempt she unleashed a mighty effort and world lead of 67.95m.
That performance raised the hairs on the back of the neck of 30-year-old Spotakova who having lost the world lead of 67.78m she set six days earlier in Ostrava, regained it with a mighty effort of 68.65m.
Goldie Sayers, who led for the first four rounds, was relegated to third with a season's best of 64.73m while Abakumova on a off night placed fifth with a best effort of only 62.00m.
Culson, Harper and Spencer score confident hurdles victories
World leader Javier Culson won a thrilling 400m Hurdles which initially he seemed to have sewn up at the halfway point when holding a three-stride lead but which was whittled down in the home straight.
The tall figure of the two-time silver medallist, although continuing to go strongly in lane four, saw his lead reduced by Bershawn Jackson on the outside and then also by former Olympic champion Felix Sanchez on the inside.
Sanchez a winner in Rabat last Sunday where he defeated World champion David Greene who pulled out of their latest clash through sickness earlier in the day, was almost alongside Jackson before crashing to the ground coming off the final hurdle suffering from a cramp.
Culson didn't notice as he powered across the line in a time of 48.14, just 0.14 shy of his world lead with Jackson clocking 48.25 and Cornell Fredericks off the pace finishing third in 49.21.
Olympic champion Dawn Harper kept her nerve in a highly competitive 100m Hurdles to break the tape narrowly ahead of Kellie Wells in 12.66.
That was only 0.01sec slower than the season's best she achieved in mid-May at the Colourful Daegu World Challenge meet and clearly showed, now free of injury, the retention of her Olympic title is firmly on her mind although knowing she will have to raise her game to defeat Sally Pearson.
Wells, who crashed out of last summer's World Championships after hitting the sixth hurdle and then ran into the seventh, was again runner up after their Korean clash in 12.67 with 2009 World champion Brigitte Foster-Hylton third in 12.78.
Kaliese Spencer, well experienced on the SDL circuit, maintained her form to power ahead of LaShinda Demus to win the 400m Hurdles in a season's best of 54.39 from Lashinda Demus and T'Erea Brown.
Spencer, fourth at the last two World Championships, sped well clear over the final three hurdles to thwart the threat of Demus the World champion who nevertheless after a disappointing sixth finish in Ostrava last Friday, gained a season's best of 54.80.
Narrowly behind her, fellow American Brown was just off her season's best by 0.08sec in a time of 54.96. Melaine Walker the Olympic champion and Doha winner, was a lowly eighth in 56.26.
Teenager Magiso shines with Ethiopian 800m record
Teenager Fantu Magiso shocked a star studded women’s 800m field probably as good as will be seen later this year in the Olympic Games final to clinch victory in an Ethiopian record of 1:57.56.
After some crazy pacemaking and the main pack of favourites including Olympic and World champions Pamela Jelimo and Mariya Savinova plus former gloabl gold medallists Caster Semenya and Janeth Jepkosgei in the line up and three seconds off the 400 split of 55.86, it was one the biggest upset of the night.
Magiso, runner up in Doha where Jelimo triumphed, jumped her Kenyan rival who had hit the front with 250 metres remaining coming into the home straight for a comfortable win. Jelimo clocked 1:58.33 with Savinova on her outdoor debut clocking 1:58.56 for third.
Ahoure dashes out from the shadows
World Indoor 60m silver medallist Murielle Ahoure showed she may become just as big a threat outdoors when surprisingly winning the 100m on a windless night in an Ivory Coast record of 11.00.
The 24-year-old Army General's daughter maintained her momentum from the halfway point to take the scalps of four Jamaican sprinters including Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser, Sherone Simpson and Kerron Stewart, the duo who shared the silver medal in Beijing.
Fraser grabbed second place in 11.06 ahead of meeting co-record holder Stewart who clocked 11.10 while Simpson was down the field sixth in 11.28.
Rutherford, Saladuha, Hadadi ad Lavillenie prevail on the infield
There was another success for Great Britain but more expected when world leader Greg Rutherford with his very last attempt leaped 8.32m to win ahead of Godfrey Mokoena.
Mokoena, the 2008 Olympic silver medallist, also produced his best effort in the last round clearing 8.20m while Aleksandr Menkov the leader until those better efforts had to settle for third with a leap of 8.17m.
World Triple Jump champion Olha Saladuha, who jumped a 14.75m season's best four days earlier in Rabat, matched that distance again in only her second competition of the year.
The second round effort gave her a narrow victory in a repeat of last August's World Championships finishing order from Olga Rypakova who had a season's best of 14.73m and current World leader Caterine Ibarguen who cleared 14.71m, both of them saving their best efforts for the last round.
The men's Discus Throw, with World champion Robert Harting an injured absentee, was uninspiring with Daegu bronze medallist Ehsan Hadadi winning with a best of 66.73m from the legendary Virgilijus Alekna who threw 66.31m with Gerd Kanter (65.36m) the silver medallist in Korea third.
Last year's Diamond Trophy winner Renaud Lavillenie needed only two first time clearances at 5.60m and 5.82m to win the Pole Vault with Romain Mesnil and Malte Mohr achieving season's bests of 5.72m for second and third places decided on countback.
The non SDL events saw World Youth champion Leonard Kirwa take the 800m in a time of 1:44.42 while Canada won the 4x100 relay recording 38.63 and Great Britain the 4x400 in 3:01.76.
David Martin for the IAAF
Click here for RESULTS
- Usain Bolt powers to a 9.76 meet record in Rome (Giancarlo Colombo) © Copyright
- Vivian Cheruiyot holds off Defar in the 5000m in Rome (Giancarlo Colombo) © Copyright
- Paul Kipsiele Koech threatens the steeplechase world record in Rome (Giancarlo Colombo) © Copyright
- Robbie Grabarz improves to 2.33m in Rome (Giancarlo Colombo) © Copyright
- Abeba Aregawi claims the Ethiopian 1500m record in Rome (Giancarlo Colombo) © Copyright
- Impressive win for Dawn Harper in Rome (Giancarlo Colombo) © Copyright
- Fantu Magiso takes down a strong field in the Rome 800m (Giancarlo Colombo) © Copyright