Rome: After winning his comeback race following a nine-month lay-off, Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt said he was happy to have blown away the cobwebs.

The world record holder was a little ragged but still proved too hot for compatriot Asafa Powell as he claimed Golden Gala honours here in 9.91sec.

Powell finished second in 9.93 as Frenchman Christophe Lemaitre took third in 10 sec dead.

24-year-old Bolt admitted he wasn't entirely happy with his performance but said at least he'd come through the race unscathed.

Despite showing off his new brawn, he said it was too early to tell what effect that would have on his performances.

"I don't think I should judge, I was a little bit nervous," he said. "It was just to get the cobwebs out and it will be in the next race to determine if the (new bigger) muscles are working. But I got through the race injury-free so it's a good start to the season,” he said.

Powell said it was normal to feel nerves at the start of the season and he seemed philosophical after his defeat.

The former world record-holder was well in front midway through the race but Bolt hunted him down over the last 20-metres.
"Pretty much this was my first real race (this year) and every sprinter is nervous for his first race so it's normal," he said.

"We're two of the best athletes in the world, running against each other is just practice to see where we're at, what to work on and just to test the other person,” he added.

An impressive 47,000-strong came out to support the pair, although mostly Bolt, and both admitted they were surprised to see so many people.

"I've been here a few more times than Usain and this was definitely the most people I've seen in this stand. It was very surprising when we stepped out, I thought 'this is ridiculous'. They came to see a great performance and they got that. It's just going to get better and better over the years,” said Powell.

Bolt added: "It was a great crowd, full of energy. They came to see a clash and I think they will come back next year because I will."
Bolt is the world record holder, Olympic champion and world champion over 100m and 200m, making him one of the most famous people ever to come from Jamaica.

However, he stopped short when someone suggested he had overtaken reggae legend Bob Marley.

"It's good to know that I'm loved but I'll have to do a survey to see if I'm more loved than Bob," he said.

"Bob Marley put Jamaica on the map. Before I was a mega-star people always would say Bob Marley (to me). I'm just adding onto the greatness of the country and I'm just happy to be known alongside one of greatest ever to live,” Usian added.

(Agencies)