Bolt's redemption run is joy to behold
Jamaican phenomenon gets it right to storm to 200m gold and sound a warning to his sprint rivals ahead of London 2012
Sunday 04 September 2011
This time he didn't bolt too soon. Instead of beating the starting gun, beating himself and pounding the palms of his hands in frustration against the trackside wall, Usain Bolt got safely out of his starting blocks in Daegu Stadium yesterday, then set about the business of doing what he does better than anyone else.
He beat the opposition, and he did it in his own astonishing style.
All of the form he had stacked up for last Sunday's 100m final – that had been glimpsed in the heat and semi-final, after a winter of injury setbacks and a summer of what by the Jamaican phenomenon's own high standards was below-par form – came pouring out as the Lightning Bolt struck in lane three in the World Championship 200m final.
His reaction time out of the blocks was 0.193sec, the slowest of the eight finalists, a sure-fire insurance policy against a repeat of the false-start that cost him his 100m title last Sunday. But it was still a good start for Bolt and he proceeded to show just how good he still is.
The 6ft 5in pride of Trelawny Parish had the gold medal in the bag as he entered the home straight, already pulling clear of the chunky Walter Dix. By the line, despite tiring in the final 20m, Bolt's winning margin over the American was 0.30sec, a veritable street in sprinting terms.
The winning time was even more impressive: a scorching 20.40sec. There have only ever been three faster 200m runs, all of them world record performances: Bolt's 19.19sec at the last World Championships in Berlin two years ago; his 19.30sec at the Beijing Olympics in 2008; and Michael Johnson's 19.32sec at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996.
As redemption runs go, Bolt's furlong yesterday was of the 24 carat gold variety.
After striking a 'Lightning Bolt' pose, hurdling the advertising hoardings and embarking on a lap of honour with a swarm of black-bibbed photographers swaying this way and that as he playfully bobbed and weaved, the world's fastest joker came to a halt halfway down the home straight. He stooped to stare into a trackside television camera, then delivered a message to the watching world: "Listen to me. They'll never beat me. I'm number one – all day, every day. Believe it."
There can be few dissenters, although Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell will need to convince themselves to the contrary if they are to have any hope of defeating a clean-starting Bolt when it comes to the blue riband of the men's 100m final in London's Olympic Stadium on the evening of Sunday 5 August next year.
In the Jamaican's wake yesterday, Dix took the silver medal in 19.70sec and Christophe Lemaitre the bronze in 19.80sec, the young French flier's first sub-20sec clocking and the second fastest ever 200m by a European sprinter, behind the 19.72sec clocked by Pietro Mennea of Italy at high altitude in Mexico City in 1979.
Bolt has not lost a 200m race since 14 September 2007, when he finished third to Wallace Spearmon and Xavier Carter at the annual Ivo Van Damme Memorial meeting in Brussels. In extending his winning streak yesterday, the 25-year-old became the first man to successfully defend the world title at the distance since Calvin Smith in 1987.
"I wasn't running angry," Bolt said. "I was running hard just to say to the fans, 'Sorry about the 100 metres'.
"I came out here to do my best and prove to them I'm still the best in the world. I didn't have anything to prove to myself.
"In the 100m I got a little too excited because I'd been working hard to get back into tip-top shape and I knew I was going to do well. Next time, I'll just relax and enjoy.
"The start today wasn't a big pressure, because all I had to do was sit and wait. And that's what I did. I didn't panic.
"It's good to run a fast 200m because it's my favourite event. I didn't run a perfect corner. If I had run a good corner, I could have come into the shape and done much better. But I'm happy."
And with good reason. For all of the trouble he has had in getting somewhere close to his best on the comeback trail after injury this year, Bolt is unbeaten in 2011. Today he will be back on the track in Daegu, going for World Championship gold again as a member of the Jamaican 4 x 100m relay team. Then comes Diamond League races in Zurich and Brussels – and beyond that London Olympics year.
"I'm going to be even more determined than this next year," Bolt pledged. "I missed out on the 100m here so the Olympics is going to be a big milestone. I need to impact there to be a legend.
"There's going to be no joking around. I'm not saying I'm not going to be messing around on the line still. I'm talking about how serious and how hard I'm going to come out and work. I'm going to be really serious."
Which is seriously bad news for the mere mortals of the sprint game.
"I've made a small step forward here," the Lightning Bolt continued, reflecting on his golden redemption run and looking to the future "But I think I have to come to the Olympics now, do my extreme best, and just blow people's minds."
Lesson learned: Stay true to false start rule, says man who fell foul of it
In the wake of his golden run in the 200m final at the World Championships, Usain Bolt said he was not in favour of changing the zero-tolerance false-start rule – despite having fallen victim to it in the 100m final in Daegu last Sunday.
Giving his public opinion on the matter for the first time since, Bolt said: "A lot of people want to change to the old rule but I'm not going to say it should be changed. I was disappointed to be thrown out but it was my own fault, so I can't complain. I knew the rule.
"It's taught me a lesson – just to focus and relax and stay in the blocks. You should wait and listen and respect the guy with the gun. He's the one who gives the commands. I've learned and I wish to move on."
Which is just as well, because earlier in the day Lamine Diack, president of the International Association of Athletics Federations, had said that there was "no chance" of the world governing body changing the rule at a meeting of its council in Daegu today. "I like very much this rule," Diack said. "I voted for having this rule."
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