Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake began their 2013 seasons by competing in separate 400m races for their Racers Track Club at the Camperdown Classic meeting in the Jamaican capital on Saturday (9).
Bolt, the two-time Olympic 100m and 200m champion and 2012 World Athlete of the Year, came home in 46.74 to win his heat in his first race over one lap of the track for three years.
His time was some way off his personal best of 45.28, which dates from 2007, but he cruised around the track before moving up a gear over the final 40 metres to clinch the win.
"I felt a bit nervous," said Bolt. "I just came out here to win and I'm glad I won injury free; 46.74 this time of the season shows that I am in good shape."
“Physically I felt good; not as good as I normally would, but overall I feel good. It didn't matter about the time, I just wanted to complete this race, I know I may have one more before the (summer) season, maybe two depending on what the coach wants.
“It was about getting through the first one, so I can be more confident for the others. I'm just very happy that I am fit at this time of the season to be able to compete in this race.
“Training has been going very well, I haven't had any problems and that's a good sign so I'm just working hard,” added Bolt, speaking to local media.
His next public appearance is expected to be in Texas as a guest for the National Basketball Association All-Star Game this coming Friday.
Blake beaten into third
Blake, runner-up to Bolt in both sprint events at the 2012 Olympics, had to settle for third in his traditional early season 400m outing as he finished behind training partner Warren Weir at the National Stadium.
Weir, the Olympic 200m bronze medallist, clocked 46.21 for a personal best by almost a second and came home ahead of second-place finisher Edino Steele in 46.64, with Blake third in 46.77. There was no final for the event.
"I'm happy with the run, despite the time,” said Blake, who ran his best of 46.49 at the same meeting 12 month ago. "I'm just looking forward to the rest of the season.
"I feel strong, I tested myself in the first part of the race, that is what got the better of me in the home straight, but I'm feeling pretty good.
"Training is going really. You know, I'm confident, I have the World Championships to defend my title and coach (Glen) Mills is just working on the different parts of my race and I'm feeling good," added Blake, who won the 2011 world 100m title when Bolt was disqualified for a false start.
In Jamaica's second city, Montego Bay, former 100m world record-holder Asafa Powell and two-time Olympic 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce were part of 4x100m teams that took the honours at the Milo-sponsored Western Relays at Catherine Hall Stadium.
Powell anchored MVP Track Club to an easy 38.62 victory. Winston Barnes, Nesta Carter and Roman Nichol were the other members of the team that beat University of Technology (UTech) 38.83 and GC Foster College 39.95
In the women’s race, the high-powered quartet of Sherone Simpson, Latoya Greaves, Anniesha McLaughlin and Fraser-Pryce brought MVP home in 44.03 ahead of UTech 44.55 and Sprint Tech 44.67.
Anthony Foster for the IAAF