Usain Bolt, left, poses with Asafa Powell having outpaced the former world
record-holder in the last strides of the 100m in Rome.
Five things we learned from the Rome Diamond League meeting
1) Usain Bolt may not last the season unbeaten
In his first competition since he was beaten by Tyson Gay last August – before his 2010 season ended in injury – Usain Bolt finished just 0.02 seconds ahead of the former world record holder Asafa Powell. Bolt's winning time of 9.91secs is still the second fastest time posted this year, but watching the triple world and Olympic champion pump hard all the way to the finish line – baring his teeth in a grimace – was an extraordinary sight to behold.
Bolt's poor start was not surprising, the shock was how long it took him to pull back into contention. He only just caught Powell in his final few strides. You had to feel for Powell – in pole position until almost the final step of the race – and afterwards the 28-year-old was left kicking himself. Around the world Bolt's rivals will have been watching and wondering if maybe, just maybe, the lightning Bolt phenomenon might have a chink in his armour this season. The triple world record holder is clearly still struggling with back problems, and it will be interesting to see how his year progresses. Next stop Ostrava on Tuesday and a showdown with the world's fastest man this year, Steve Mullings of Jamaica.
2) A live athletics grand prix can get bums on seats
Almost 50,000 people turned out to watch the action in Rome's Stadio Olimpico on Thursday night, which should give athletics chiefs back in the UK something to think about. How did Rome do it? An all-star line-up including key head-to-head clashes, great publicity – the whole city plastered in billboard-sized posters of Bolt – and a fantastic stadium to showcase it all.
3) Christine Ohuruogu will have her work cut out
The defending Olympic champion has had a miserable two years of injury and ill-form, but before Rome could at least have taken consolation from the fact that Sanya Richards-Ross – to whom she lost her world crown in 2009 – had suffered a similarly poor 2010. Now, though, there is a new star in the one-lap race, with three-times 200m world champion Allyson Felix deciding to double up over both distances this season. The gazelle-like Felix left Richards-Ross for dead in Rome, posting the fastest time of the year in 49.81sec.
4) Phillips Idowu is on hot form this season
The world triple jump champion had said before the meet that he hoped for a personal best, but in reality posting the biggest distance of the year at his first attempt – topping Teddy Tamgho's effort in Doha by 10cm with 17.59m – is a major coup in the ongoing battle between the two jumpers. The 32-year-old Briton has said he would happily swap a world record this year in exchange for his world title and having improved on last season's opener of 17.48m he is certainly on the right track.
5) For Dai Greene only the best is good enough
Before 2010 not many people had heard of Britain's 400m hurdler Dai Greene. But such were his achievements last year, winning the European and Commonwealth title as well as running a personal best of 47.88sec to catapult him into genuine world-class territory, a second-place finish in Rome was deemed not good enough for the Welshman. The 25-year-old, who is targeting a world title this year, ran the third-fastest time of his career, crossing the line in 48.24sec, in only his first hurdling outing of the season – not to mention the fact that he beat the current world and Olympic champions in the field – but still treated the result as a blow.