Usain Bolt led his All-Stars team to victory on the first of three nights of competition in Melbourne’s Lakeside Stadium as part of the new Coles Nitro Athletics Series.
The 30-year-old multiple Olympic and world sprint champion, who has bought a stake in the innovative format making its debut, experienced his first competitive race on Australian soil as he contributed a relay leg in the concluding event, the mixed 4x100 metre relay.
“Yeah it was a lot of fun,” Bolt said after his relay win in front of a crowd of 7,039.
“I was excited to run, and next week we might change it up just for the fun of it.
“I really enjoyed it, even the elimination mile race for me was just spectacular.
“For me, this is what I expected and over time we’ll figure out ways to make it better but it’s started off good and we’ll be looking forward to the weekend even better.”
In partnership with fellow countryman Asafa Powell, the former 100m record holder, and US athletes Jenna Prandini and Jeneba Tarmoh, Bolt helped produce a winning time of 40.64sec to finish almost two seconds clear of Team Japan (42.36) and the hosts, who clocked 42.45.
Despite having a Nitro Powerplay, meaning double points, for the final event, Australia still finished 30 points adrift of the All-Stars, who scored 1,080 points.
China were third with 845 ahead of Japan, 810, New Zealand and England, who both got 795.
In the field events Jarrion Lawson of the United States took the win with a jump of 7.94m just ahead of Team Australia’s Fabrice Lapierre who managed 7.89m.
The points were shared at the top in the pole vault with Team Australia youngster Kurtis Marschall and Chinese vaulter Xue Changrui both clearing 5.40 metres.
The three-minute challenge was another popular event that got the crowd involved when Team Australian miler Luke Mathews kicked clear of Kenyan Elijah Kipchirchir just before the finish siren sounded.
“That was one of the more unique races I’ve done,” Mathews said after commending co-captain Genevieve LaCaze on her efforts in the first three-minute leg of the race.
“This crowd right now, this is almost what it was like when Usain Bolt ran at the Olympics, it was bloody incredible, incredible.”
Now the teams look ahead to another three-hour meeting on Thursday (Feb 9) before the final next Saturday.