GLASGOW: Jamaica might not have had Usain Bolt on the starting blocks, but track’s biggest star was quick to laud teammate Kemar Bailey-Cole for winning the Caribbean island’s third consecutive men’s 100m at the Commonwealth Games.
Bolt’s lingering foot injury saw him delay his comeback to the track, meaning he missed the Jamaican national championships that doubled as a trial for the Games in Glasgow.
The six-time Olympic medallist was included, however, in the squad for the 4x100m relay. Yohan Blake, the world’s second fastest man, was also missing through injury.
Any fears that the 100m crown was going anywhere other than Jamaica at a packed Hampden Park on Monday were allayed, however, when Bailey-Cole stepped up to the mark.
“TeamJamaica all the way .. congrats @KemarBaileyCole #Glasgow2014 #gold,” tweeted Bolt.
The official Jamaican team twitter feed added “GOLD and BRONZE for #TeamJamaica (((((((LOUD)))))). Kemar Bailey-Cole GOLD, Nickel Ashmeade & Jason Livermore 5th.”
Bailey-Cole clocked 10 seconds flat for gold ahead of England’s Adam Gemili (10.10), with Ashmeade claiming bronze (10.12).
“I’ve worked hard for this my whole life. I’ve dreamed of this moment and I can only get better,” said Bailey-Cole, a training partner of Bolt.
“I am very happy about it as it is my first individual gold medal so I can’t complain,” said the sprinter, who tasted gold medal success at the London 2012 Olympic Games and 2013 World Championships as part of Jamaica’s 4x100m relay team.
Bailey-Cole played down the absence of Bolt and Blake, saying: “I didn’t feel under any pressure coming into the race. I just went out there and executed my race but it wasn’t perfect.
“The start wasn’t good. Just the start—the rest of it was okay. I think I could have run a lower time if I had a better start but I’ve got the gold.”
Bailey-Cole added of his relationship with Bolt: “I train with Usain Bolt but our friendship is not that close.
“We are good friends but not really that close. I didn’t hear from Usain before the race, but the coaches told me to go out win and I did just that.”
Jamaica’s night at Hampden started with an unlikely gold in the shot put for O’Dayne Richards, but hopes for a sprint double were dashed when Nigerian Blessing Okagbare won the women’s 100m ahead of Jamaican duo Veronica Campbell-Brown and Kerron Stewart.
“A good day for Jamaica .. #RichardsGold #Bailey-ColeGold #VCBSilver #KerronBronze #AshmedeBrone #TeamJamaica #Congrats #Glasgow2014,” Bolt later tweeted.
Okagbare set a new Games record of 10.85sec for gold, with Campbell-Brown and Stewart timing 11.03 and 11.07sec respectively.