ATHLETICS: Usain Bolt powers Jamaica into relay final

Jamaica's Usain Bolt receives the baton from Nickel Ashmeade during the mens 4x100m relay
Jamaica's Usain Bolt receives the baton from Nickel Ashmeade during the mens 4x100m relay

Usain Bolt ended a week of controversy and speculation by finally making his Commonwealth Games debut at a packed Hampden Park on Friday night.

Six days after arriving in Glasgow to great fanfare the world’s fastest man took to the track to run the anchor leg for Jamaica in the heats of the 4x100 metres relay.

His name was greeted with a huge cheer when it was first read out by the stadium announcer, despite his alleged slur, denied by the man himself, on his Games experience, and the roars only grew when he was introduced to the crowd out on to the track.

If there were any Glaswegians bearing a grudge in attendance, they were well and truly drowned out. The man they had all come to see was here and that was all that mattered.

The six-time OIympic champion responded by sauntering down the home straight to put his team safely into final. Bolt took the baton from Nickel Ashmeade and brought his team across the line in first in 38.99 seconds before applauding the crowd.

Any lingering speculation that he still might not run was ended by the sight of him on the warm-up track next to Hampden ahead of the night’s action.

And his appearance for Jamaica’s heat, the second of three, was met with roars of approval as loud as those afforded to any Scottish athlete.

Even the weather smiled on Bolt, with the sun out for the penultimate session of athletics at the Games.

Opting to run the heats as well as the final into order to gain race practice after not competing yet this season following a foot injury, the 27-year-old showman danced along to the Scottish folk music blasting out ahead of his race before getting down to business.

Addressing the report in which he was quoted as having made disparaging comments about his time in Scotland, Bolt told BBC1: “I can’t believe she (Times reporter Katie Gibbons) actually said that. You know me, first of all I would never use that word if I was going to say that, but for me, I love competing.

“I’m here because of the fans and because I want to be at the Commonwealths.

“I’m enjoying it - it’s been good and people have been so nice to me so I’d never say something like that.

“It was rough, everybody wanted to say something but I didn’t want to say anything else. Last time I had a simple conversation it turned out to be worse for me so I decided ‘you know what, I’m going to wait until I get the chance to speak’.

“It’s great, for me, everything has been good, just the weather, it’s too cold for me.

“The fans have been wonderful, I’m happy to be here and I’m looking forward to enjoying what’s going on.”

The 27-year-old was happy to have guided Jamaica safely into Saturday’s final.

“We told each other to just get the baton round and we’d be okay.

“It was wonderful, just like the London Olympics. The crowd is great. I have heard it throughout the Championships, just watching on TV. It’s been wonderful.”