ZAGREB, Croatia — Usain Bolt made a cautious start in his first 100 meters since his disqualification at the world championships, and still won in a season-best 9.85 seconds at the Zagreb World Challenge on Tuesday.
Bolt, who false-started in South Korea last month to end his hopes of retaining his world title, shaved 0.03 seconds off his previous fastest time this year — 9.88 at Monaco in June — on a warm, still night.
“It was a poor start,” said Bolt, the world and Olympic record holder. “I kind of lost concentration and just went through the line. It was OK, I suppose, but I could have done better, especially with the weather like that.”
Kim Collins of Saint Kitts and Nevis ran a season-best 10.01 seconds to finish second, ahead of Trinidad’s Richard Thompson at 10.03.
There was standing room only at the 61st Boris Hanzekovic Memorial, where Real Madrid president Florentino Perez and club official Emilio Butragueno arrived in time to see Bolt run. Madrid begins its Champions League campaign at Dinamo Zagreb on Wednesday.
“It was wonderful, the crowd here,” Bolt said. “I loved that they were excited and that the fans come up to me. I’m always grateful for that.”
However, security had trouble controlling the crowd as “Boltmania” took hold when he celebrated with delirious fans.
“It’s not as bad in Jamaica, where they see me every day,” Bolt said, laughing.
The commotion extended to his news conference, which was cut short when too many journalists tried to force their way into the room.
The appearance of local favorite Blanka Vlasic in the women’s high jump also delighted the home crowd, although she eventually succumbed to world champion Anna Chicherova. Both cleared 6 feet, 6 inches, with Chicherova declared the winner after Vlasic — who had a leg injury — missed on the first attempt.
“It will be difficult to improve this season,” Vlasic said. “I’m delighted that the fans were treated to a spectacular meet because I practically grew up in this stadium.”
In the men’s 110 hurdles, Cuba’s world-record holder Dayron Robles beat world champion Jason Richardson for the second straight race.
Robles finished first at the world championships but was disqualified for impeding Liu Xiang of China, giving Richardson of the U.S. the gold.
Richardson, who was also beaten by Robles at the Weltklasse meet in Zurich last week, set a personal best of 13.04 seconds, but Robles won in 13.00. David Oliver of the U.S. was third in 13.20.
Carmelita Jeter took the women’s 100 in 11.00. The American was pushed hard to the line by Schillonie Calvert of Jamaica, who finished in 11.13, with Bulgaria’s Ivet Lalova third in 11.33.
“Hopefully I’ll come back next year. I’ve enjoyed myself so much so far,” Jeter said.
Calvert won the 200 with a personal-best 22.55, leading a 1-2 Jamaica finish. Sherone Simpson was second in 22.95, with Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie of the Bahamas third in 22.97.
In the women’s 100 hurdles, world champion Sally Pearson followed her success at the Weltklasse in Zurich to claim the gold in 12.67.
“Relief more than anything. I came into this meeting a bit tired,” Pearson said.
LaShawn Merritt of the United States won the men’s 400 in 45.20 seconds after a slow start, finishing ahead of compatriot Greg Nixon (45.73) and Trinidad’s Renny Quow (45.95).
Jamaica’s Novlene Williams Mills set a meet record of 50.31 seconds to win the women’s 400.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press
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