A sequel is rarely, if ever, better than the original, but Usain Bolt versus Justin Gatlin part two, on Thursday, has the potential to be as dramatic as the first showing.
The backdrop to their 100 metres final at these championships was of Bolt’s struggles this season and Gatlin’s remarkable consistency. However, Bolt ended up in the ascendant, albeit by a hundredth of a second.
This time the Jamaican has complained of being tired but, on the evidence of his 200m semi-final, he is beginning to gain greater fluency and confidence over the longer sprint.
There was little to choose between Bolt and Gatlin as they won their heats in 19.95sec and 19.87 respectively, both easing up before the line and looking like there was plenty to spare.
It was workmanlike performance by Bolt in terms of its delivery and he said afterwards: “I felt smooth, I just did what I had to do to qualify, I didn’t have to extend a lot of energy. I just ran the corner quick enough to make sure I got off in front, pushed about 50m after I came off and then shut off. It was a good one.”
It was a case of “anything you can do I can better” for Gatlin, who was marginally the more impressive of the two. He said: “I didn’t know I was running that fast so, hopefully, I’ll put more energy into the finals and come out on top.”
Gatlin, whose time was the second fastest in a semi-final in the history of the championships, admitted he was relishing the opportunity to do battle with Bolt again and get his revenge.
Asked what it would take to win, Gatlin, who this week announced he was not going to speak to the British media, said simply: “It takes to stay in front, that’s what it’s going to take.”
The final looks set to be played out between the pair, with the rest seemingly scrapping over the bronze, among them Zharnel Hughes, who won the other semi-final.
Hughes is well versed in all things Bolt, as the pair share the same coach, Glen Mills.
Having switched Jamaican team-mates for British from training to competition, Hughes said: “Coach Mills has seen me out here and says ‘Great Britain man, you’re getting the good food’.”
The Bolt comparison is apt: both men are similarly tall, rangy and quick as well as not wanting for confidence and the 20-year-old has his sights on making his mark in the final. He said: “I have no expectations going into it, I want to go out, execute and get a medal.”
Elsewhere on the fifth day of the World Championships, Kenya’s Julius Yego, who taught himself to throw the javelin by watching clips on YouTube, was crowned world champion with a monstrous throw of 92.72 metres.
It was the furthest in the world since Jan Zelezny threw 93.80m at the World Championships in 1991.
South Africa’s Wayde van Niekerk sealed a shock win in the 400m with the fourth-fastest time in history (43.48sec) to edge LaShawn Merritt and Kirani James, who boast seven world titles between them, into second and third respectively. Afterwards, Van Niekerk had to be taken off the track on a stretcher with exhaustion.Reuse content