Justin Gatlin and Mike Rodgers produced the first sub-10 times on Russian soil, and Usain Bolt had what could best be described as a stroll to victory in the seventh and last heat.
None of that mattered, however, as it was Bolt the spectators had come to see. A post-race interview with Russia’s Aleksandr Brednev, who failed to advance to the semi-finals, had drawn the biggest ovation until Bolt made his appearance on the track. Super-stardom trumped patriotism by a narrow margin.
In an uncanny echo of what happened in Daegu two years ago, there was a false start in Bolt’s race. To immense relief, this time it was not him but Kemar Hyman of the Cayman Islands who was judged at fault and condemned to the desolate trudge off the track.
The second start was rock-solid. Bolt was away well, if not spectacularly, had gobbled the field up by 50 metres and then cruised to the line a metre clear of World University Games 100m and 200m champion Anaso Jobodwana of South Africa, 10.07 to 10.17. Ramon Gittens of Barbados grabbed the other automatic qualifying spot with 10.19.
Now to those who were more impressive, which was just about every other heat winner. We know Bolt can find more: the question is can they?
Give Gatlin the top billing. The US sprinter has, after all, a win over Bolt this year in the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Rome.
Gatlin won the third heat in 9.99, the significance of which was that it was the first sub-10 run in Moscow, indeed in all of Russia. Keston Bledman of Trinidad and Tobago closed on him at the line to take second in 10.02 and Dwain Chambers was third in 10.14.
Antoine Adams of St Kitts and Nevis was fourth in 10.18, advancing to the semis as one of the three fastest non-automatic qualifiers.
Gatlin’s Russian all-comers record was a short-lived as his US team-mate Mike Rodgers won the sixth heat in 9.98, fastest of the round, from Nickel Ashmeade (10.12) and Harry Aikines-Aryeetey (10.16). Su Bingtian also went through on times with 10.16.
France’s Jimmy Vicaut may have run almost as fast had he not eased ostentatiously a few steps before the line in taking the fifth heat in 10.06. Aaron Brown of Canada was second in 10.15 and Samuel Francis of Qatar third in 10.21. Francis appeared to stumble a few strides before the line and left the track favouring his foot.
There will be two Chinese sprinters in the semi-finals as Zhang Peimeng won the fourth heat in 10.04, equalling his own national record. Trinidad and Tobago’s Richard Thompson was second and Jason Rogers of St Kitts and Nevis third.
Britain’s James Dasaolu, fourth in 10.20 and the fourth-fastest man here with his 9.91 at the UK Championships, went through as the third and final non-automatic qualifier.
Jamaicans took the first and second heats with Kemar Bailey-Cole impressive in taking heat one in 10.02 from Christophe Lemaitre (10.12) and Zimbabwe’s Gabriel Mvumvure (10.28).
Then it was the turn of Nesta Carter, who looked easy in taking the second heat in 10.11, ahead of the Netherlands’ Churandy Martina (10.17) and Canada’s Gavin Smellie (10.30).
Japan’s 17-year-old Yoshihide Kiryu, who ran a World junior record 10.01 earlier in the season (which will not be ratified due to technical timing issues), finished fourth in 10.31 and failed to advance.
Len Johnson for the IAAF