Usain Bolt’s preparations for the world championships this summer received a worrying and unexpected jolt on Wednesday night as he struggled to win his penultimate race before defending his 100m and 4x100m titles in London – and then admitted to having “some health issues” afterwards.

The giddy crowd at the Golden Spike in Ostrava had come expecting the full Bolt. The poses, the smiles, the selfies – and, most of all, the raging afterburners applied halfway down the home straight. Yet when the muscular Cuban Yunier Perez came alongside him at the midpoint of the 100m, Bolt, 30, pressed on the accelerator and found very little.

True – Bolt still had enough to come through in 10.06sec, but Perez was worryingly close in second, just 0.03 behind. It was the first time Bolt has recorded back-to-back times over 10sec in the same season since turning professional – and with some suggestions of a minor limp at the finish his chances of successfully defending the world 100m title in a month’s time are far from certain.

Not that Bolt sees it that way. “I had some health issues which caused the time, and it does not represent quality,” he said. “I’m not happy with it but I’m just getting into my running, improving the execution, so I’ll be fine. No worries, when I get checked out by my doctor and the coach is giving me some training, I’ll be fine.”

Certainly the conditions were perfect for sprinting – that much was obvious watching the South African Wayde van Niekerk slip under Michael Johnson’s 17-year-old world best in the 300m earlier in the evening. Van Niekerk, who also took Johnson’s 400m world best in winning the Olympics in Rio last year, blasted out of the blocks and finished strongly in 30.81 – beating Johnson’s time by 0.04.

Bolt, however, still looked ring-rusty – which was understandable given that it was only his second race of the season after a sluggish opener in Kingston this month, where he had ran 10.03sec at the Racers Grand Prix. It was hardly the ideal run – especially with his coach Glen Mills also admitting on Wednesday that Bolt still has some catching up to do after missing three weeks’ training while grieving for his friend, the British high jumper Germaine Mason. Mills said: “His preparation is not normally where it used to be at this time, so he certainly has ground to catch up. A big chunk of his training has been affected.

“It was a big blow; he took it very hard. It affected him in terms of his training because he lost about three weeks of training time, and then getting back into things was slow for him, so I am not sure if he is totally over it.”

There were no such difficulties for Mo Farah, who sprinted to victory in a 10,000m race that was little short of an exhibition given his personal best of 26min 46sec was nearly 30sec quicker than the rest of the field.

Farah had aimed to chase a personal best but was frustrated by the erratic pacemaking which started off slow and then went too fast. But inspired by chants of “Mo! Mo! Mo!” he finished strongly to win in 27:12:10 – 26sec outside his best but ahead of Mathew Kimeli, a promising 19-year-old who finished sixth in the Kenyan trials at the weekend.

But there was a surprise in the men’s 1,000m as the double Olympic 800m champion David Rudisha could only finish fourth against a modest field. The Kenyan led around the final bend but faded sharply and was overtaken by his compatriot Nicholas Kipkoech, who came through to win in 2:18.51sec, as well as the Czech athletes Jakub Holusa and Filip Sasinek, who if nothing else happens in their athletics’ careers now have a treasured story to tell their future grandchildren.

Source: Sean Ingle| The Guardian