With Tyson Gay absent following his recent positive drugs test and Yohan Blake injured, Usain Bolt will go into the 200m at the World Championships as a raging favourite.
But his fellow Jamaican and training partner Warren Weir showed Bolt may not have it all his own way by producing one of the most impressive performances on the opening night of the Anniversary Games.
After running a perfect bend before storming to victory in 19.89sec, ahead of his countryman Jason Young, who ran 19.99, Weir left few doubts that he is ready to take the fight to Bolt. "I am pretty pleased with 19.89sec," he said. "I am confident going into the world champs that I can run my race and win."
As Weir soared, the British athletes stuttered. Richard Kilty finished seventh in 20.57, James Ellington eighth in 20.62 and Delano Williams, who switched nationality from the Turks and Caicos Islands this year and will compete for Britain at the championships in Moscow, was last in 20.74. Kilty, who was passed over for selection for Moscow in favour of Williams, said: "I had a hamstring problem all week and even in the warm-up I was debating whether to run, it was that painful. So to come out here and perform how I did was great.
"I'm glad to be the best of the Brits, especially seeing as I didn't get selected for Moscow. I was going out there to try to prove a point."
There was more woe for Britain in the high jump as the Olympic bronze medallist Robbie Grabarz could manage only 2.24m – 13cm below his personal best – while the promising 20-year-old Allan Smith bowed out at 2.20m. The event was won by the Ukrainian Bohdan Bondarenko, who twice attempted an audacious world record of 2.47m before settling for victory in 2.38m. "I am very happy" said Bondarenko. "I feel I will get it at Moscow. It was a good competition."
Grabarz's feelings were more towards the other end of the spectrum. "It wasn't very good to be honest, that's it," he said. "I've got a while to work on my technique – that's all I've got to do."
Elsewhere the reigning world and Olympic champion Kirani James won the men's 400m in 44.66, easing home in the last 50m to pip the American Tony McQuay. Britain's Nigel Levine finished sixth in 45.58, with Conrad Williams last in 46.43.
In the men's 800m Nick Symmonds sprang a minor surprise as he ran a season's best 1:43.67 to beat his fellow Americans Duane Solomon and Brandon Johnson.
"I loved it, it's a very special moment for me to be racing back here and racing well," he said. "I really wanted a medal last year and I've been in four finals so I'm now hoping it will be fourth time the charm."
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