DAEGU, South Korea — Still fuming from his false start that knocked him from the 100-meter final, Usain Bolt crouched slightly on the line and waited. Then he zipped into the darkness of a deserted practice track.
There, only a short hike from the main stadium, he didn’t have to worry about jumping the gun.
Bolt missed out on defending his title Sunday when he jumped from the blocks early at the world championships. He was disqualified by a highly debated zero-tolerance false start rule enacted last year.
“He’s human, isn’t he? I always knew he was human,” said his coach, Glen Mills. “He will pick himself up. He’s a champion.”
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Just not on this night.
Bolt knew instantly it was his error, too. Soon after the gun went off, soon after taking just a few steps out of the blocks, another gun blasted — the knot-in-your-stomach sound for any sprinter.
Bolt’s eyes grew big. He pulled his shirt over his face, then ripped it off and whipped it around in his hand. Grudgingly, Bolt left the stage he has dominated since the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Instead, it was left to another Jamaican to wrap himself in the country’s flag — Yohan Blake, a 21-year-old up-and-comer that former Olympic gold medalist Maurice Greene predicted to win.
Blake finished in a modest time of 9.92 seconds, 0.16 seconds ahead of American rival Walter Dix. Kim Collins of Saint Kitts and Nevis, the 2003 world champion and now an aging 35-year-old veteran, was third.
“Definitely, I wasn’t focusing on beating Usain,” Blake said. “I was just focusing on finishing in the top three.”
This was also a day that Oscar Pistorius, the double-amputee sprinter known as the “Blade Runner,” showed he indeed belongs on the same track with able-bodied athletes at big meets. Springing along on his carbon-fiber blades, Pistorius advanced to the semifinals of the 400.
“A big sense of relief,” he said.
How local athletes fared
Stephanie Brown Trafton: Looking to become the first U.S. woman to medal in the discus since the inception of the World Championships, the former Arroyo Grande High and Cal Poly star and reigning Olympic gold medalist instead placed fifth with a mark of 209 feet, 5.50 inches. Yangeng Le of China won with a mark of 218-3. Trafton’s Olympic gold mark at Beijing in 2008 was 212-5.
Sharon Day: Through two events of the heptathlon, the former Cal Poly NCAA high jump champion had 2,001 points. Day received 1,023 points by finishing the 100-meter hurdles in 13.69 seconds. Topping out at 5-103⁄4, Day got 978 points in the high jump.
Ben Bruce: The former Cal Poly standout will compete in the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase today.
— Tribune staff