Big 3 on 100m
World record holder Usain Bolt barely broke sweat despite sweltering temperatures to cruise through the Olympic 100 metres heats along with compatriot Asafa Powell and world champion Tyson Gay on Friday.
Jamaican Bolt won his heat in 10.20 seconds, while Powell, the former record holder, eased to a jog but comfortably qualified for the quarter-finals in 10.16.
American Gay had the closest race but looked untroubled by the hamstring injury he suffered at the U.S. trials last month and won his heat in 10.22.
With the fastest three men of all time going head-to-head, the 100 metres is one of the most highly-anticipated events of the 10-day athletics competition. The quarter-finals are on Friday evening with the semis and finals on Saturday.
Bolt was the most impressive, winning heat four in 9.92 seconds despite easing down from the mid-point while looking around to admire the view.
Powell followed his younger team-mate's lead, easing off the gas early to win heat five in 10.02s.
In comparison to his Jamaican rivals, world champion Gay worked hard to finish second behind Trinidad and Tobago's Richard Thompson (9.99) in heat two.
The American, who battled a hamstring injury in the build-up to the Olympics, clocked 10.09s and looked to be working much harder than either Bolt or Powell.
The British challenge is down to just one after Simeon Williamson and Craig Pickering were eliminated.
Williamson (10.32) was fourth in heat one, which was won by Churandy Martina of the Dutch Antilles in 9.99s, while Pickering (10.18) trailed in fifth behind Bolt in heat four.
Tyrone Edgar, however, clocked 10.10s to finish third behind Marc Burns (10.05) and Kim Collins (10.07) in heat three and reach the final.
Meanwhile in the 1,500m heats, Britain's Andy Baddeley eased through to the semi-finals with a well-judged third place in his heat, but team-mate Tom Lancashire missed out after finishing seventh in his race.
Baddeley ran the first two laps at the back of the pack before slowly moving through the field and finished in lane three as he battled to find some space on the track.
Bahrain's Rashid Ramzi was the fastest qualifier with a time of 3m 32.89s, just outside the Olympic record.
"It's good for my self-belief," said Ramzi, who has been selective in the choice of his events in the past. "I'm not running for the money, I'm running for the glory."
American duo Bernard Lagat and Lopez Lomong, born respectively in Kenya and Sudan, both qualified but struggled.
"It wasn't as easy as I wanted it to be to qualify," admitted Lagat, who took Olympic bronze behind then Kenyan compatriot Noah Ngeny in Sydney 2000 and silver in the Athens 2004 edition behind Hicham El Guerrouj, also as a Kenyan.
"I wanted to run outside and not to get boxed in. I was counting the spots and all I wanted was top five and I didn't want to go crazy. There's always a worry in the final 100m and with five ahead of you.
"It was a scare and I don't want to leave it like that again."
By Nick Mulvenney Reuters