Greene alert as Johnson breaks 20-second barrier

Michael Johnson followed Maurice Greene's footsteps into lane five at the Hornet Stadium in Sacramento last night. Then, in 19.89sec of high-speed running, the superman of track and field proceeded to take the psychological lead in the race to decide the title of world's fastest man.

Michael Johnson followed Maurice Greene's footsteps into lane five at the Hornet Stadium in Sacramento last night. Then, in 19.89sec of high-speed running, the superman of track and field proceeded to take the psychological lead in the race to decide the title of world's fastest man.

Running in the fourth heat of the opening 200m round at the United States Olympic trials, Johnson broke the 20 seconds barrier for the 21st time in his career as he powered to the formality of a convincing victory. He did so clocking 19.89sec, a significant 0.40sec quicker than Greene's winning time from the same lane in the previous heat.

Greene might be the reigning world champion at 200m but the half-lap event is Johnson's domain, as his arch rival was keen to emphasise last night. Not until the final is finished, a little after 1.48am British time tomorrow, will the running dispute between the American speed merchants be settled. Johnson, though, will go into the semi-finals tonight with the assurance of a man already standing apart from his peers.

The Texan was the only runner inside 20 seconds last night. Greene was only the sixth fastest qualifier, with 20.29sec, and while the 100m world champion and world record holder was no doubt keeping some of his powder dry for the last two rounds there is a chance that the anticipated re-match in Sydney might not even take place. Greene needs to finish in the first three in the final to secure his Olympic selection for the event. And that, rather than settling a personal score with Johnson, might become his most urgent priority on the occasion of his 26th birthday.

A week ago Colin Jackson's top priority was to get back on track after the tweaking of hamstring fibres in his second race of the summer. Last night he emerged from the treatment table with a sparkling snap in his hurdling stride. Five days after remedial help from the Munich sports doctor Heinz-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt, Britain's only track and field world champion returned to Germany and recorded his fastest 110m hurdles time of the year.

The Welshman was impressive enough in his heat at the Sachsen Meeting in Chemnitz, clocking 13.27sec, a season's best. He was even quicker in the final an hour later, crossing the line in 13.20sec - 0.09sec clear of Falk Balzer, the German who won the European Cup race in Jackson's absence at Gateshead last Sunday. It was not just confirmation of Jackson's fitness but a warning to his Olympic rivals, Anier Garcia and Allen Johnson, that gold in Sydney is in his sights. "I think the time says that I'm back," he said. "Not many people run 13.20 in their third race of the season. I've still got a couple of things to work on. I'm getting there, though."

The same cannot be said of another reigning world champion. Christopher Kosgei, winner of the 3,000, steeplechase in Seville last summer, will not be getting to Sydney after failing to finish in the top three in the Kenyan trials in Nairobi yesterday. He was unable to respond when Rueben Kosgei, no relation, Bernard Barmasai and Wilson Boit Kipketer broke clear in the early stages. Daniel Komen, the 1997 world 5,000m champion and 3,000m world-record holder, also missed the selection boat. He dropped out with four laps remaining in the 5,000m.

Another leading light in the sport, Merlene Ottey, failed to qualify for the 100m in the Jamaican trials in Kingston. Fourth place in the final, however, was sufficient to secure a sixth Olympic appearance for the 40-year-old veteran - with a place in the 4 x 100m relay team. She also still has the opportunity to qualify for 200m, though it was clear in the 100m final that the time Ottey lost while suspended from competition had taken its toll. It was only on 7 July that she was cleared to return to competition following her positive nandrolone test last summer.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: On behalf of a successful academy i...

Investigo: Finance Business Partner

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Investigo: My client, a global leader in providing ...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - West London

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: WEST LONDON - An excellent new opportunity wit...

Recruitment Genius: Florist Shop Manager

£8 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A Florist Shop Manager is required to m...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project