Usain Bolt in the 100m at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (Getty Images) © Copyright
Report Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Report: men's 100m heats – Rio 2016 Olympic Games

The opening shots were fired in the pursuit of gold in the men’s blue riband event with one or two hints at the form of some of the key contenders.

World University Games silver medallist Kemarley Brown of Bahrain edged a close-run first heat via a photo-finish from Great Britain’s Chijindu Ujah. Both were credited with the same time of 10.13 and the pair advance. Behind, the third-string US sprinter Marvin Bracy looked a little out of sorts and had to settle for third in 10.16, but the time was quick enough to advance as one of the eight additional qualifiers on time.

In heat two USA’s Justin Gatlin, the 2004 Olympic champion who is bidding to make history and become the first man in history to regain this title, looked impressive to head the qualifiers with an eye-catching victory in 10.01. The 34-year-old, who is also hoping to surpass Linford Christie as the oldest ever Olympic champion or for that matter medallist in this event, destroyed the field over the final 30 metres to finish 0.19 clear of Antigua’s Daniel Bailey.

China’s Xie Zhenye backed up the form which propelled him to fourth over 60m at the IAAF World Indoor Championships Portland 2016 to take some notable scalps to win heat three 10.08. The technically efficient Chinese sprinter trimmed 0.04 from his lifetime best and finished 0.05 clear of former world 100m finalist Nickel Ashmeade of Jamaica, who grabbed second.

Kim Collins, competing at his fifth Olympics some 20 years after making his Olympic debut in Atlanta, had to settle for fourth in 10.18 but the evergreen 40-year-old sprinter from St Kitts and Nevis will progress into the semifinals on time.

World bronze medallist Andre de Grasse showed his class to take a decisive victory in heat four. The 21-year-old Canadian laid down a marker he will be a serious threat by stopping the clock in 10.04 – some 0.09 clear of Japanese champion Asuka Cambridge.

World finalist Su Bingtian of China, who made a strong start, faded to third in 10.17 with Jimmy Vicaut of France – a 9.86 man at his best – a slightly disappointing fourth in 10.19, although the pair also advance to the semifinals as two of the eight quickest on time.

World indoor 60m champion Trayvon Bromell of the USA, who has had his injury issues this season, made a promising start but was outgunned in the final 30 metres by Ben Youssef Meite. The African champion from the Ivory Coast was an impressive winner in 10.03 – a tenth clear of Bromell, who grabbed second to advance directly into the semi-finals.

Jamaica’s 2011 world 100m champion Yohan Blake answered a few questions by easing to a trouble-free heat six win in 10.11. The 26-year-old, who has suffered more than his fair share of injury woes in recent seasons, looked in decent nick to clinch victory by 0.03 from European 100m silver medallist Jak Ali Harvey of Turkey.

Usain Bolt, bidding for a history-making hat-trick of Olympic 100m titles, cruised into the semi-finals with the minimum of fuss.

The giant Jamaican – running alongside the man who took Olympic silver behind him in 2008, Richard Thompson – took a while to get fully into his stride but was once he hit a satisfactory velocity he was content to take several cheeky glances across at Bahrain’s Andrew Fisher, who had the temerity to lead Bolt after 70 metres.

Running well within himself Bolt, predictably, crossed the line first in 10.07 – 0.05 clear of the Jamaican-born Fisher, who banked the second automatic qualification spot. Thompson had to settle for fifth in 10.29 and exited the competition.

World University Games champion Akani Simbine took out the heat eight win in 10.14 to clinch victory by 0.06 from Japan’s Ryota Yamagata. The South African heat winner – who ran a national record of 9.89 in his final pre-Rio appearance – ran impressively and on this evidence could be a factor at the business end of the competition.

Canada’s Aaron Brown – a 9.96 man at his best – placed third in 10.24 and world indoor bronze medallist Ramon Gittens of Barbados was fourth in 10.25, but both were eliminated. Another first-round victim was European champion Churandy Martina of the Netherlands, who had to settle for fifth in heat four in 10.22.

Steve Landells for the IAAF