Usain Bolt branded his start “horrifying” as sport’s coolest customer admitted to feeling nervous on his return to the Olympic Stadium.
The Jamaican was back at the scene of his triple London 2012 triumph as a bumper crowd revelled in a party atmosphere, but he was made to sweat before blasting through to take the victory in the 100 metres.
The 26-year-old’s time of 9.85 seconds was a season’s best and the second fastest in the world this year after Tyson Gay, who is under a doping cloud - but it could have been a different story after he was almost left in the blocks.
He entered the arena atop a missile for his customary lap of honour before the action, but this run hardly fired out a major statement of intent ahead of next month’s World Championships.
Bolt said: “It (the start) was horrifying for me. I think it is just race rust and I just need to get a few races in. The rounds in the World Championships will help that and get my legs freer and a bit lighter.
“Hopefully the coach (Glen Mills) will figure out what I need to do to get me more explosive out of the blocks.”
The Jamaican still ran out a convincing winner, with American Mike Rodgers second in 9.98secs, but his time was still relatively sluggish by his own stratospheric standards.
Not that that bothered the capacity 60,000 crowd in east London as they re-lived London 2012 one year on for the first of the three-day Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games.
Flashbulbs galore and a roar to rival those heard at the Olympics greeted Bolt when he was introduced to the crowd ahead of the race.
Earlier he had received the usual hero’s welcome when he arrived at the start of the evening, posing, dancing and saluting the crowd as he completed a circuit of the stadium on a rocket, complete with Jamaican flag.
He said: “For the first time I think in a long while I was slightly nervous. Initially I was excited to come out because I knew it was going to be a big crowd, but when I got out there and I saw that it was ram-packed and the energy was still like the Olympics.
“It was just wonderful so I was slightly nervous, but I loved the energy of the crowd. It was beautiful and I love competing here.”