Bolt plays down 200m chances

Jamaica's sprint star urges caution as the world waits on another record run
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The Independent Online

The Lightning Bolt will be back on track in the World Championship arena this morning. Having already produced one mighty high speed jolt in the Olympiastadion arena, knocking the biggest ever chunk off the global 100m record, the world is wondering whether the one-man phenomenon can strike for a second time. We shall see when the 200m final takes place on Thursday evening, on the eve of his 23rd birthday.

"I doubt it," Usain Bolt cautioned as he turned his attention to the first round heats, due off at 9.05am today British time. The foot injury he suffered when overturning his BMW M3 back in May prevented him from running round bends in training for several weeks and hence a lack of speed endurance might possibly spare the world record figures he set at the longest distance in Beijing last summer, 19.30sec. But, then, the pride of Trelawny Parish has made a habit of defying the boundaries of popular expectation. If he can do that to other people's, then why not to his own?

Not that anyone, least of all Bolt himself, ever doubted that he would subject the 100m world record he set on the Olympic stage last year to some serious revision. Having started to ease down some 25m from the finish line, he always knew there was more to come off the 9.69sec he recorded in the Beijing Bird's Nest.

Bolt's coach, Glen Mills, reckoned his charge would have run between 9.52sec and 9.54sec had he gone flat out all the way. Still, it came as something of a shock when the Jamaican stopped the clock at 9.58sec in the World Championship 100m final here on Sunday evening.

For one thing, the blue track was not regarded as particularly sprinter-friendly. For another, Bolt had not run faster than 9.79sec all season. Then again, he does happen to be a man for the big occasion.

It was one giant leap for sprinting kind to take the record from 9.69sec to 9.58sec – the biggest advancement in the 100m since the International Association of Athletics Federations opened an official world record book back in 1932. No man has ever made such an impact on the blue riband event of track and field.

Formerly a 200m specialist, Bolt only started getting himself and his 6ft 5in frame to grips with the 100m at the start of last summer. In 15 months he has advanced the world record by 0.16sec. Before that, it took seven different men and 39 years to improve it by 0.21sec.

Despite his feats, Bolt does not consider himself to have achieved legendary status just yet. "It's getting there," he said, "but I don't think two seasons can do it. I think I have to keep doing it year after year. It will take a lot of hard work because these guys are going to be coming after me next season and the season after that."

With a little more hard work on his start, it would not be unreasonable to expect the Lightning Bolt to go even quicker in the 100m. He has talked before about 9.4sec being the absolute limit – for mankind, not just himself – and in the wake of his latest clock-beating run, he said: "Anything is impossible, but I never go out there thinking about world records. For me, 9.5 is definitely a big thing. I'm proud of myself because I'm the first man to have done that."

Lightning Bolt: How 100m has fallen

*In 15 months, Usain Bolt has lowered the 100m world record by 0.16sec:

9.72 New York, 31 May 2008

9.69 Beijing, 16 Aug 2008

9.58 Berlin, 16 Aug 2009

*Before that, in 39 years, seven men lowered it by 0.21sec:

9.95 J Hines (US) Mexico C, 14 Oct '68

9.93 C Smith (US) Col Springs, 3 July '83

9.86 C Lewis (US) Tokyo, 25 Aug '91

9.85 L Burrell (US) Lausanne, 6 July '94

9.84 D Bailey (Can) Atlanta, 27 July '96

9.79 M Greene (US) Athens, 16 June '99

9.74 A Powell (Jam) Rieti, 9 Sept '07