- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 28, 2017

OSTRAVA, Czech Republic (AP) - Usain Bolt started the European leg of his final season before retirement with a victory in the 100 meters at the Golden Spike meeting on Wednesday.

At the meet where he has most frequently competed in his career, with nine appearances, Bolt reeled in the rest of the field after a trademark slow start to cross the finish line in 10.06 seconds.

However, he had to hold off a strong challenge from Yunier Perez of Cuba, edging him by 0.03. Jak Ali Harvey of Turkey was third in 10.26.

Bolt’s performance fell short of his season best of 10.03, which was clocked at the 100 and 200 world record holder’s final race in his native Jamaica on June 11.

“I’m not happy with the time,” he said. “It wasn’t a good race, it was pretty slow.”

Bolt mentioned a back problem that slowed him, but downplayed its significance.

“I’m going to see my doctor (in Germany) soon, I know he will fix every problem,” he said. “All I need to do now is just to train hard and focus on getting myself into great shape. I’m not worried about that. It’s just my back, it’s always an issue. I didn’t get injured, that’s a key thing.”

The eight-time Olympic champion is preparing for the world championships in London in August, his final major competition.

Bolt said he liked the Golden Spike because it was one of the first professional meets that invited him to run at the start of his career, and he also appreciated the fact that the stands were always packed - despite bad weather during some of his previous appearances.

In an emotional farewell after the race, fans held up colored cards that formed a huge Jamaican flag in the stands, with a giant message: “THANX UB.” The Jamaican anthem followed, with Bolt singing along.

“That was a surprise,” Bolt said. “I didn’t expect anything like that. They always give me so much love here, I really appreciate that.”

The only other race he’s scheduled before the worlds is the Diamond League event in Monaco on July 21. He’s still undecided about other meets.

Other winners on Wednesday were Mo Farah and Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa, who led home the rarely-contested 300 meters in a world’s best time of 30.81.

Farah claimed victory in the 10,000 in what was likely one of his last races on the track.

The British distance specialist, who defended his Olympic titles in both the 5,000 and 10,000 at the Rio Games last year, plans to retire from track to move to road races after the worlds.

Farah held off a challenge from Kenyan Mathew Kimeli, surging past him with 200 meters to go to win in 27:12.09. Kimeli clocked 27:14.43.

“I honestly hoped I could run a bit faster time, however the wind slowed me down even though we ran quite a fast race from the beginning,” Farah said.

Van Niekerk, Olympic champion and world record holder in the 400, won the 300 inside the previous best time of 30.85, set by Michael Johnson in 2000, in Pretoria, South Africa.

“I’m so pleased and grateful for the big achievement. I’m honored to be a small part of history,” Van Niekerk said. “I have to rest a little but after that I hope I can continue to make baby steps to be better day by day.”

“I think he really wants to be a sprinter,” Bolt said about Van Niekerk. “He has shown that he’s ready for the challenge. For me, he’s on the right track. If he continues like this he will take over the track and field.”

Isaac Makwala of Botswana was second in 31.44, ahead of another South African, Clarence Munyai, who clocked 31.61.

Olympic champion Thomas Rohler was in a class of his own, winning the javelin competition with a throw of 91.53 meters, only slightly off the 93.90 he achieved in Doha, Qatar, last month - which was the longest throw in more than 20 years. Fellow German Johannes Vetter finished second at 87.88.

Christian Taylor of the United States, the Olympic triple jump champion, won with a meet record of 17.57 meters.

Marie-Josee Ta Lou of Ivory Coast took the women’s 200 in 22.44, followed by Alyssa Conley of South Africa in 23.03 and Spain’s Estela Garcia in 23.17.

Germany’s Pamela Dutkiewicz remained unbeaten this season, claiming the women’s 110-meter hurdles in 12.72 for her seventh straight victory. Rikenette Steenkamp of South Africa finished second in 12.99 in her personal best time.

Kenya’s Benjamin Kigen pulled away with a lap to go to win the 3,000 steeplechase, clocking a personal best 8:11.54 to beat Ethiopia’s Getnet Wale and Hailemariyam Amare. Olympic steeplechase champion Conceslus Kipruto of Kenya was a last-minute withdrawal due to an unspecified injury.

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