BBC Sport – Superstar sprinter Usain Bolt anchored the Jamaican 100m relay squad into today’s final despite a scare and insisted again that he was delighted to be in Glasgow.
Bolt has been forced to deny reports that he made a disparaging remark about these Commonwealth Games, but his long-awaited appearance was almost ruined by injury rather than controversy.
Jamaica’s lead-off man Kimmari Roach appeared to hurt his thigh midway through the first leg of their heat but managed to get the baton to second man Julian Forte before Nickel Ashmeade and then Bolt took the team home.
Bolt admitted afterwards: “I looked round and thought something was wrong.
“I was kind of worried but Kimmari got the baton round, and that is sign of a true champion. My coach always taught us to run with pain.”
On Wednesday the Times newspaper claimed that Bolt had described the Games in negative terms and on Thursday published a transcript of his exchange with their reporter.
But Bolt told BBC Sport: “I can’t believe they actually said that. I would never use that word. I love competing and I am here because of the fans.
“It’s wonderful, just like the London Olympics. The crowd is great. I have heard it throughout the championships and watched it on the television.
“I am enjoying it. The people have been good to me and I would never say that.
“Everything’s been good for me. It’s just the weather. It’s got cold. But I am happy to be here and I am enjoying what’s going on.
“I would never say that [the Games are rubbish]. When I come to the Games, I always look forward to it.”
Even without performing Bolt has still managed to dominate the last week of these Commonwealths.
An hour after landing he was being mobbed at a news conference in the city, fielding questions about the Gaza crisis and Scottish independence.
Even before the headlines over his reported comments he has been a prisoner of his own room in the athletes’ village, sending a team-mate down to the canteen to bring him meals rather than risk being mobbed on his own.
Neither has he enjoyed any sort of normality in his preparations. Injury means he only began training six weeks ago, but such is the allure of the fastest man in the world that even a Bolt rusty and out of practice draws a capacity crowd.
As he walked out onto the top bend in black hooded top he drew a cheer that almost matched the reception given to Scotland’s Lynsey Sharp as she won 800m silver a few minutes earlier. A relay does not give Bolt quite the same stage for his usual clowning.
But there was a little dance to the music played over the public address system and a fist-bump with the girl designated to carry his kit, the Hampden Park crowd seemingly delighted to have witnessed first-hand the greatest athlete of his era.
He said: “I was never worried about the reception tonight. I am all about the fans and for me this was dream. I am happy.
“We told each other just to get it [the baton] round and not to stress too much about this one.”
England’s quartet of James Ellington, Harry Aikines-Aryeetey, Richard Kilty and Andy Robertson qualified in first place from the third and final heat, their 38.78 secs faster than the Jamaican quartet’s 38.99.
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