James Lawton: World holds its breath for another act from the Usain Bolt show at London 2012

Jamaican cruises into 200m final and looks set for new record time tonight

The Olympic Stadium

Really, you could watch him all day, as you might some huge, rolling surf or one of those great thoroughbreds who makes the others look as if they are standing still.

When he leans down to the blocks after the ritual entertainment - last night he crossed himself and then pointed an admonishing finger to God in the event he wasn't paying full attention - you might just hear a dog bark in some distant street.

The world remains as absorbed and fascinated by Usain Bolt as it was when he first emerged so sensationally in Beijing four years ago and then a year later in Berlin when he broke again the 100 metres record he tore to shreds in the Bird's Nest stadium.

Sunday's victory in the 100m - in the second-fastest time in history - has clearly not satisfied the audience that becomes so animated when he comes into the stadium. It has merely triggered the appetite for more of the drama he can create with a small change of pace on the beach back home in Jamaica.

In the 200m semi-final last night he was merely the fifth-fastest qualifier - running 20.18, nearly a second outside his world record - but, of course, on this occasion no one looked at the clock, only the awesome movement of the man who might well bring further stimulation to London with a record-breaking effort in tonight's final.

That is hardly fanciful when you consider the nature of last night's effort.

His opponents in the second semi-final ran 200 metres. Bolt ran 100 then waited for the others. He was followed home by Anaso Jobodwana of South Africa and Alex Quinonez of Ecuador after he took a couple of long strides to the line. What was most significant last night was that the malfunctioning mechanics of his start appeared to have disappeared. On this occasion his first strides resembled all those others he made before almost going into reverse. He came huge out of the blocks and when he did so you could not help but feel a pang of sympathy for his young countryman and training partner Yohan Blake.

Some suspected that this strong and brilliant flyer might repeat in the 100m final here his victory in the Jamaican trials - and then reproduce his triumph in the 200m. Last night it looked the remotest possibility, even though Blake had once again led in the qualifiers and had himself eased back pointedly over the last 20 metres. You couldn't help recall the time Muhammad Ali reported that his sparring partner Jimmy Ellis had dreamt that he had beaten the great man in a world title fight. However, Ali reported, "The first thing he did when he came in to work this morning was apologise."

Blake has been christened "the Beast" but it was Bolt who last night again suggested inhuman powers.

When he came off the track, Bolt looked back on the easiest of chores. "This was all about going through as easily as possible," he declared. "This was the aim and it went pretty well, so I'm happy. This is my favourite event and I'm looking forward to it. People always doubt champions but I know what I can do and I don't doubt myself."

Blake finished in 20.01 but he is not likely to draw too much encouragement from that. Before the race he was saying that Bolt had no powers to intimidate. Of course, he admired him for all his achievements but he didn't fear him. He had beaten him twice, once over this distance, and he believed he could do it again.

It is the kind of thing you have to say when you are going against someone who has moved the world, who has things beyond its imagination and there is no doubt Blake is a most formidable sprinter. He moves with a wonderful smoothness and strength and if he was against anyone else you wouldn't be able to get a bet on him. However, the reality is the big man loping in the dusk and Blake should be careful in his dreams. If, this is, he doesn't care to make an apology.

 



Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
Fans take a selfie with Ed Miliband in Kempston, near Bedford, on Tuesday
election 2015
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power