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Bolt's blast boosts meet

7 May 2008

By Dave Ungrady

With Jamaican runner Asafa Powell, the 100-meter world record holder, opting out of the Jamaican International Invitational on May 3, there was little expectation that the event would create the greatest feat at the meet. Only two runners, Wallace Spearmon, Jr. of the United States (9.96) and Kim Collins of St. Kitts (9.98) had broken the 10-second mark.

But another Jamaican ensured that track and field's marquee race would claim the most attention. Usain Bolt, a 200-meter specialist who won a silver medal in the event at the 2007 world championships, blasted to a 9.76 second-win, the second fastest behind Powell's 9.74 world record. His previous best was 10.03.

"I was not expecting that," said Bolt, 21. "My 200-meters speed started to kick in after about 50 meters, and I just went away from the pack."

Bolt's agent Ricky Simms confirmed earlier this week that the runner could run the 100-meters against world champion Tyson Gay at a Grand Prix meet in New York on May 31. Bolt is also considering Golden League meets on June 1 in Berlin and June 6 in Oslo.

Gay clocked a wind-assisted 9.76 seconds in New York last year and has indicated that he wants to follow the same schedule as he did in his 2007 run-up to the 100 and 200 meters world titles.

Gay comfortably won the 200 meters at the Jamaican meet in a world-leading 20.00. Other American winners included world champion Kerron Clement in the 400-meter hurdles in a world-leading 47.79; Olympic champion Joanna Hayes in the 100-meter hurdles (12.72); Bianca Knight in the 200 meters (22.62); world champion Sanya Richards in the 400 meters (50.60) and two-time Olympian Hazel Clark in the 800 meters. Spearmon finished fifth in the 100 meters in 10.13.

Jamaican Kerron Stewart won the women's 100 meters in a personal best and world-leading 10.96.

Top Jamaican sprinters from the MVP Track Club such as Powell, Michael Frater, 100-meter world champion Veronica-Campbell-Brown and Sherone Simpson chose not to compete in the meet due to a scheduling conflict and displeasure with treatment by meet organizers and the Jamaican Amateur Athletics Association, club coach Steve Francis said in a Jamaica Gleaner report last week.

"Our number one reason is that we have a schedule of meets to participate in and the Jamaica Invitational is not on our agenda," Francis said. MVP athletes competed at the Penn Relays on April 26 and are scheduled to compete at the Super Grand Prix meet in Doha, Qatar on May 9.

Francis added, "Our-home based athletes are not given preference. We are not comfortable with the treatment given to our athletes as they give the Americans all the preferences and the benefits."

Francis was unavailable to comment further.

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