ROME, Italy, May 27 – Usain Bolt shook off a nine-month lay-off to prove he was back as he beat rival Asafa Powell to win the 100m at the Golden Gala in Rome.
Bolt had to grit his teeth and drag back his Jamaican compatriot over the last 20m before winning in 9.91 seconds.
Powell recorded 9.93sec in second with Christophe Lemaitre of France third in 10sec flat.
"It was not perfect but I’m very happy. It could have been better, but I’m now looking forward to my second race (of the season)," said Bolt.
"The important thing was that I got the win. It’s good for confidence and the season."
It was far from a vintage performance from the new muscular Bolt, who clearly looked bigger and stronger than before his lay-off.
But after so long out he displayed admirable determination to chase down Powell and win when he looked set for defeat.
Bolt was slow out of the blocks and when Powell streaked clear in mid-race it looked all over.
But the 24-year-old stretched his giant legs and ate into Powell’s lead, pipping him to the line.
"The difference is that Usain ran his race and I also ran his race. I didn’t stay relaxed or focused," complained Powell.
Bolt said he was happy to have blown away the cobwebs after winning his comeback race following a nine-month lay-off.
Bolt admitted he wasn’t entirely happy with his performance but said at least he’d come through the race unscathed.
And despite showing off his new brawn, he said it was too early to tell what effect that would have on his performances.
"I don’t think I should judge (Thursday), I was a little bit nervous," he said.
"It was just to get the cobwebs out and it will be in the next race to determine if the (new bigger) muscles are working.
The women’s double super-clash between world champions Sanya Richards (400m) and Allyson Felix (200m) turned out to be a bit of a damp squib.
Richards’s long lay-off — she didn’t compete at all last year — showed as she trailed in 5th in 50.98 in the one-lap event while Felix won by more than half a second in 49.81 from Botswana’s Amantle Montsho.
However, in the 200m both seemed to be suffering a bit from fatigue as they were put in the shade by their rivals.
American Bianca Knight won in 22.74sec from Olympic bronze medallist Kerron Stewart of Jamaica and Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie of the Bahamas in third.
Felix was fourth in 22.81 with Richards one place behind in 22.88.