Running the second leg of the relay, the eight-times Olympic gold medal-winner took the baton from fellow Jamaican sprinter Asafa Powell before Jeneba Tarmoh and Natasha Morrison powered to the finish in front of a sell-out crowd at Lakeside Stadium.
Usain Bolt fired his team of international ‘All Stars’ to victory in the inaugural Nitro Athletics Series in Melbourne on Saturday, capping the glitzy event with a dominant win in the 4x100m relay to pip hosts Australia in the final standings.
The ‘All-Stars’ finished the team-based meeting with 3,040 points, edging Australia by 77 points, with Bolt playing a key role as both his team’s linchpin and the event’s ‘chief entertainment officer’.
Having run in only the relays in the opening two installments of the three-night series, Bolt also took his first individual run of the year, burning away from a modest field for an easy win in the 150m sprint ahead of New Zealander Joseph Millar.
IAAF president Sebastian Coe, battling to lift the sport’s profile outside of the Olympics and repair its reputation after a series of major doping and corruption scandals in recent years, was impressed.
With a sprinkling of big international names and a number of athletes well off peak fitness, the entertainment outweighed the quality of the sport but the parochial crowd warmly embraced the team rivalries and the novel program of events.
The three nights of the Series drew over 23,000 spectators, nearly double the total attendance for the entire program of athletics events across Australia last year. With ‘power play’ events awarding double points to winners and an unorthodox program of mile eliminations, mixed distance medleys and 300m relays, there was inevitably confusion at times among some athletes and fans.
Organizers were red-faced during Thursday’s second installment when the meeting referee botched the score in the final relay and awarded the night to Australia rather than the ‘All-Stars’, leaving an incredulous Bolt crying foul.
Bolt, who is contracted to bring his ‘All-Stars’ to Australia for the next two years, said he hoped to make the event international and attract overseas investors. But with his retirement after the world championships in London, his absence from the track will be a big test for the Series’ ambitions.
The error was corrected, putting the ‘All-Stars’ rightly on top, but not before the live broadcast was finished and much of the crowd had filed out of the stadium.