Asafa Powell ran the fastest time of this world championships season on Thursday, winning the 100m in 9.78 seconds at Athletissima.
Powell’s sprint, powered by a strong start on a cool, blustery night, was 0.01 split second faster than the now-injured Tyson Gay managed on June 4 at Clermont, Florida.
“It was a fantastic race. I was very confident actually that I was going to run good,” the 28-year-old Jamaican said.
Powell also was 0.13 split seconds quicker than Usain Bolt’s season best, set at the Rome Diamond League meet last month when Powell was second.
Two months ahead of the worlds in Daegu, South Korea, Powell said he was not thinking of the biggest barrier to his first major individual gold medal.
“It’s not really a message to anybody — it’s just for me,” said Powell, who held the world record for three years until Bolt’s devastating breakthrough in 2008.
Smiling broadly, Powell said with seeming unintended irony that he’s reaching his best form “slowly but surely.”
“It will get better and better as the season goes on. 9.6 is in my range,” said Powell, who has Bolt’s 9.58 second world record to aim for.
Powell, aided by a following wind of one meter per second, required a few more gusts to threaten his career-best 9.72 seconds set here in September 2008.
“The track must love me,” said Powell, who pulled Jamaican teammate Michael Frater to a personal best of 9.88 seconds in second.
Third-placed Christophe Lemaitre equaled his French record of 9.95 seconds.
Powell was the undoubted star of the Diamond League event, as 800m world record-holder David Rudisha won, by his remarkable standards, in a relatively sedate 1 minute, 44.15 seconds, and Blanka Vlasic sustained another surprise loss in the high jump.
Rudisha raises hopes of -lowering his 1 minute, 41.01 seconds mark every time he runs and he was paced through the first lap in under 50 seconds.
The 22-year-old Kenyan, in his second race following a left ankle injury, took over with 300m to go, though never extended his 10m lead.
Rudisha’s lack of sharpness showed in the straightaway and runner-up Marcin Lewandowski, the European champion from Poland, was closing at the line.
Vlasic was expected to deliver her 100th competitive leap of at least 2m. However, the Croatian world champion cleared only 1.90m — at the third try — as Ukraine’s Anna Chicherova won at 1.95m.
“I had problems with my knee and ankle and today was so cold, so it didn’t help,” said Vlasic, who also lost in rainy, windy New York earlier this month.
A second world season-leading performance was delivered by Frenchman Teddy Tamgho in the triple jump.
Tamgho leaped 17.91m, an Athletissima record, to rouse the crowd minutes after Powell ran.
Olympic and world champion Andreas Thorkildsen won the javelin to announce his return to form after being sidelined by a groin injury.
Thorkildsen’s opening throw of 88.19m was just 3cm off the world season-best.
“Im baaaaack!!!!!!!!!!!!,” the big Norwegian posted on Twitter minutes later.