Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Bolt reaches 200m semifinals
ESPN.com news services
BERLIN -- Looking for his second gold medal of the world championships, Usain Bolt jogged across the line Tuesday to advance to the semifinals of the 200 meters.
Two days after setting a world record of 9.58 seconds to win the 100, the Olympic 200 champion ran a good curve and coasted through the final straight to finish in 20.41 seconds, a full 1.11 seconds behind his world record.
In the absence of injured defending champion Tyson Gay, Bolt is the overwhelming favorite for gold. He said he would try to get a second world record at the championships, too.
"I'll be running hard," Bolt said.
The Jamaican set a record of 19.30 seconds at the Beijing Olympics, widely considered one of the toughest to beat in the sport.
"I'm just trying to get through the rounds. That's my aim," Bolt said. "I'm trying to do it round by round like last year. Then I'll go to the finals and just execute."
Celebrating and showboating after winning the 100 on Sunday, he was short on antics this time. Blame it on fatigue since he had to be in the stadium early Tuesday for the first heat.
"I'm feeling a little tired, but nothing a good night's rest won't cure," Bolt said after his sixth race in four days.
Jamaican teammate Steve Mullings had the best qualifying time, winning his heat in 20.23. Shawn Crawford was third in 20.37, with American teammate Wallace Spearmon also easily advancing.
The U.S. team needs to change something quick to challenge the Jamaicans for sprint supremacy at the championships. They lost 5-0 in Olympic titles at the Beijing Games and are already behind 2-0 after the 100s. The specter of another rout is looming ever larger, especially with Gay out for the 200 and doubtful for the relays.
The final for the 200 is set for Thursday. Bolt is also favored to lead Jamaica to a sprint relay gold on Saturday to equal his feat of three golds at the Olympics.
In the 400 meters, Sanya Richards shook off years of disappointment with her first major title, pumping her fist after crossing the line.
Her main rival, Olympic champion Christine Ohuruogu of Britain, was back in fifth. And for Shericka Williams of Jamaica, it was silver again.
"I finally got it right," Richards said. "It means the world to me."
With a time of 49.00 seconds, Richards set the fastest mark of the year. In Beijing last year, Richards faltered over the last 50 meters and Ohuruogu won. Not so this year.
"She wanted it a little bit more than the rest of us," Ohuruogu said.
Richards was 0.32 seconds faster than Williams. Antonina Krivoshapka of Russia took bronze.
In the 100 hurdles, two-time defending champion Michelle Perry was eliminated in the heat, finishing only seventh in her race. Perry injured her right knee in Monaco and had to fight to make the starting block.
"It was a victory in itself," Perry said.
She is set to have surgery at home next week.
The United States still looked strong, with Olympic champion Dawn Harper and Damu Cherry both qualifying from their heats.
Priscilla Lopes-Schliep of Canada had the top time of 12.56, ahead of Jamaican veteran Brigitte Foster-Hylton, who finished in 12.67.
Olympic champion LaShawn Merritt and defending champion Jeremy Wariner easily qualified for Wednesday's semifinals of the 400.
In the discus, overpowering Olympic and defending world champion Gerd Kanter qualified on his first throw.
"A very easy throw, controlled and enough to qualify and save my energy for the final," Kanter said.
Ezekiel Kemboi of Kenya won the men's 3,000 steeplechase gold medal. Kenyan teammate Richard Mateelong took the silver, and Bouabdellah Tahri of France settled for the bronze.
Kemboi, the 2004 Olympic champion, pulled away in the final lap and crossed the line in 8 minutes, 0.43 seconds, a championship record. He came into the meet as the world leader, with the only sub-eight time.
Brimin Kipruto, the reigning Olympic and defending champion, finished seventh.
Late Tuesday, the finals are the men's triple jump and 400 hurdles and the women's javelin.