Saint-Denis: A bout of flu failed to prevent world record holder Usain Bolt from cruising to an easy victory over European champion Christophe Lemaitre in the 200 meters at the Areva Diamond League athletics meeting on Friday.
The Jamaican sprinter clocked 20.03 seconds, well adrift of his record of 19.19 set at the 2009 world championships in Berlin, but enough to outclass Lemaitre of France, who finished second in 20.21.
"It was just one of those days," Bolt said. "I was not feeling good because of a flu, but at the end of the day, I decided to run and could win."
Bolt came out of the curve with the lead and eased off in the last 50 meters.
"Overall it was an OK race," Bolt said. "I ran the first part very hard. Then I just came into the straight, made sure I was leading, and I kind of backed off a little bit."
The start in the 200 was delayed by 15 minutes because of a technical problem with the timing.
That hitch however did not affect Bolt's mood. The triple Olympic champion pointed his index finger at the camera as the stadium's speaker blasted 'Everybody needs somebody to love' by the Blues Brothers.
"It was a little bit too long," Bolt said of the delay. "It's never good to stand out and just wait. The wind picked up, it started to get cold. For me, it wasn't a good thing. I'm just happy I got through it injury free."
After the meet was over, Bolt jogged a bit and was massaged by a physio on a table just behind the finish line while sending some text messages.
"The flu is going away, I'll be all right," he said.
Bolt has been working on his technique lately and will defend his world titles next month in Daegu, South Korea.
In the 110 hurdles, Olympic champion Dayron Robles of Cuba dipped his chest to beat U.S. champion David Oliver in a photo finish.
Robles led from the start but Oliver made a strong comeback at the halfway stage to put pressure on the Cuban hurdler as both crossed the line in 13.09.
World champion Caster Semenya of South Africa won the women's 800 in 2:00.18.
"It's a little bit upsetting," Semenya said about her time. "I cannot worry about the time, the most important thing about Daegu is to win, getting back to the podium."
"I will compete also in China at the World University Games, that will be my time trials before Daegu."
Semenya, who is trying to rediscover her form after missing 11 months of competition because of a gender controversy, was at the back of the pack after the first lap, but she quickly made up ground to lead after 600 meters, pulling away in the home stretch. Halima Hachlaf of Morocco took second in 2:00.60.
Meanwhile, Christina Obergfoell, Yargelis Savigne, Zuzana Hejnova and Meseret Defar set world-leading marks this season in the women's events.
Olympic bronze medalist Obergfoell of Germany won the javelin event with a throw of 68.01 meters at her first attempt, while world champion Savigne of Cuba leapt 14.99 to beat Ukraine's Olha Saladukha in the triple jump.
"I knew I can achieve a good mark but did not expect 68 meters," Obergfoell said. "So I am more than satisfied. I think 68 will be enough for a medal in Daegu and that is also my goal."
Hejnova of the Czech Republic ran 53.29 in the 400 hurdles in which Olympic and world champion Melaine Walker of Jamaica only finished fifth in 55.06.
Defar eased to victory in the 5,000 with a time of 14:29.52 to beat fellow Ethiopian Sentayehu Ejigu who came in second.
Kelly-Ann Baptiste of Trinidad and Tobago stunned Jamaican sprinters Kerron Stewart and Veronica Campbell-Brown in the women's 100. Baptiste ran 10.91 to edge Campbell-Brown into second with 10.95 and Olympic runner-up Stewart into third with 11.04.
Christopher Brown of the Bahamas overtook Belgian runner Jonathan Borlee in the home stretch to win the men's 400 in 44.94.
American Jeremy Wariner, who took Olympic gold in 2004 and silver in 2008, finished fourth in 45.50 while South African amputee Oscar Pistorius was fifth in 45.84, failing to reach the 45.25 time that would automatically qualify him for the worlds.
The Areva Meeting is the eighth leg in the Diamond League circuit. The next leg is the Aviva Grand Prix in Birmingham on Sunday.