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Bolt takes tape in giant stride then hits back at negativity

IF Jamaican sprint superstar Usain Bolt had caused upset after allegations of delivering an astonishing slur on his Glasgow experience, the Hampden faithful did not show it.

ROAR: Usain Bolt was well supported at Hampden in spite of recent negative press.
ROAR: Usain Bolt was well supported at Hampden in spite of recent negative press.

The 44,000 fans who packed the national stadium to the rafters last night roared their appreciation, waved their Saltires, and clapped excitedly as the fastest man in history made a grand competitive entrance to the Commonwealth Games.

As he stepped on to the Hampden track dressed in black, he applauded the faithful, and they made sure he knew how they felt about him.

The cool, calm and collected Jamaican even had time to joke with one of the female Clydesider volunteers as he prepared at trackside.

If there was a voice or placard of dissention, it was either drowned out by the deafening din or hidden by a forest of flags as he lined up with his Jamaican team-mates for the 100m relay heats before helping the squad reach today's final.

The Bolt show did not disappoint as he charmed millions afterwards by saying the Hampden crowd was "just like the London Olympics".

The man who is undoubtedly the biggest name at Glasgow 2014 was chosen to do the final sprint in the relay, and it seemed that all the Jamaicans needed to do was avoid dropping the baton to reach tomorrow night's final.

Bolt's name was greeted with a huge cheer when it was first read out by the stadium announcer, and the roars only grew louder when he was introduced to the crowd out on the track.

The excitement ratcheted as he took the baton from Nickel Ashmeade and the noise seemed to reach even greater decibels as he majestically strode to the finish line.

As the six-time Olympic champion cruised to victory, the idea that he had allegedly told a national newspaper reporter that the Games were "a bit s..t" seemed irrelevant.

However, he continued to deny using the word, and defended his decision not to speak abut the comments until tonight. When asked in interviews whether he was tempted to go home this week, He replied: "No way!"

He added: "Glasgow is great. For me everything has been good so far, just the weather. It's got really cold.

"But everything has been great. The fans have been wonderful. I am happy to be here. And I am looking forward to enjoying what's going on here," he said.

"For me, you know, I love competing. I am here because of the fans and because I want to be at the Commonwealth [Games]. I am enjoying it.

"And it has been good. People have been so nice to me - so I'd never say something like that."

He even took time to joke about BBC TV presenter Gabby Logan, who had apparently suggested she was enjoying the Games without him and his Jamaican training partner triple Olympic medallist Yohan Blake, who pulled out through injury.

"Someone said they are enjoying the Games without Blake or me.

"She knows who it is. The BBC. I am not calling names. You know what I am talking about. I am a fun person.

"I love to have fun. Look at me," he said.

An embarrassed Logan was forced to explain her comments to viewers immediately afterwards.

Many of the fans, who voiced their approval of Bolt's performance on social networks, could only think about his star status, sealed after a golden 12-month period from August 2008 to August 2009 - four major finals, four gold medals and four incredible world records.

Earlier, Alex Salmond backed Bolt in the row over whether the fastest man on the planet called the Commonwealth Games "a bit s***"."

The First Minister said he was sure that Bolt had been talking about the weather when making the comments, which had been widely reported this week ahead of his Games debut.

The Jamaican superstar was also quoted as saying that "the Olympics were better" than Glasgow 2014 and that he was "not really" having fun in Scotland.

Mr Salmond was hosting a press conference for budding journalists covering the Commonwealth Games at The Mitchell Library in Glasgow yesterday.

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