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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Extras
indybest
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
News
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Poet’s corner: Philip Larkin at the venetian window of his home in 1958
booksOr caring, playful man who lived for others? A new book has the answer
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
art
News
Matthew McConaughey and his son Levi at the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros at Fenway Park on August 17, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.
advertisingOscar-winner’s Lincoln deal is latest in a lucrative ad production line
Life and Style
Pick of the bunch: Sudi Pigott puts together roasted tomatoes with peppers, aubergines and Labneh cheese for a tomato-inspired vegetarian main dish
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape