Bolt looks near untouchable for 200 final

HOWARD FENDRICH
Last updated 17:04 09/08/2012
Usain Bolt
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CRUISING: Usain Bolt was so comfortable in his semi-final he jogged to the finish line.

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Even when he slows to a jog, Usain Bolt is as fast as he needs to be.

His sidekick, Yohan Blake, is looking like the closest thing there is to a true challenger.

Is there anyone in the Olympic 200-metre final who can outsprint both of the Jamaicans to win the gold?

"Yeah, man. That's why we are racing," said Wallace Spearmon of the United States.

"If they weren't beatable, they would just hand them medals, and we'd race for third."

Actually, it's not outlandish to suggest the bronze is the only medal that's seemingly not destined for Bolt or Blake in the 200.

"There's a lot of people there who have come to spoil the party," Bolt said, "so we'll see."

He's trying to become the first man with two Olympic titles in the 200, part of his oft-stated goal of becoming a "living legend" in London.

As it is, Bolt already successfully defended his 100 title from the Beijing Olympics by winning that final in 9.63 seconds - the second-fastest time in history - to join Carl Lewis of the US as the only men with consecutive golds in the dash.

Four years ago, he went 3 for 3, winning the 100, 200 and 4x100 relay, all in world-record time. He went on to break his marks in the two individual races at the 2009 world championships - records that still stand, 9.58 in the 100 and 19.19 in the 200.

Asked about the chances of a world record, Bolt replied: "There's a possibility, definitely. I can't say (for sure), but the track is fast. It's going to be a good race."

The other medals at stake Thursday (local time) are in the decathlon, with world record-holder Ashton Eaton of the US taking a 220-point lead over teammate Trey Hardee into the last five events; the men's triple jump, where Americans Christian Taylor and Will Claye are among the favourites; the men's 800 metres; and the women's javelin.

In addition to Bolt, Blake and Spearmon, the 200 field includes Christophe Lemaitre of France, Churandy Martina of the Netherlands, Warren Weir of Jamaica, Alex Quinonez of Ecuador, Anaso Jobodwana of South Africa.

At the Beijing Games, Martina and Spearmon finished second and third to Bolt in the 200 but didn't head home with medals because they were disqualified for running out of their lanes.

Blake nearly made a big blunder in Wednesday's semi-finals, easing up so much that he nearly let the hard-charging Spearmon and Lemaitre catch him at the finish line.

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But Blake - given the nickname "The Beast" by his pal Bolt because of the intensity of his practices - got across first in 20.01 seconds, 0.01 ahead of Spearmon and 0.02 ahead of Lemaitre.

"You know the nature of 'The Beast,"' Blake said. "I find myself out in front, and I just cruised from there."

He didn't cruise nearly as much as Bolt did in an earlier semi-final until looking to his left and seeing his lead shrinking. That's when Bolt turned the speed back up a notch for a few strides, enough to ensure he would win his heat in 20.18. Jobodwana, the man two lanes over who was gaining on Bolt, finished in 20.27.

Allyson Felix always has been fast. She just hadn't been fast enough to win an individual Olympic race until Wednesday night, when she finally got the gold she'd long sought.

The runner-up in the 200 metres at the 2004 and 2008 Games, Felix overtook two-time 100 champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce down the stretch to finish in 21.88 seconds.

"It's crazy," Felix said. "I remember just (being) in tears in Beijing. Gosh, just completely opposite tonight. For all of it to come together is just extremely special and I'm overjoyed."

Carmelita Jeter of the US won the bronze, and Veronica Campbell-Brown of Jamaica - the woman who beat Felix in the finals at Athens and Beijing - was fourth.

"She's been trying very hard for this moment," said Jeter, who became the first US woman to medal in both sprints since Florence Griffith-Joyner in 1988.

"When I gave her a hug, that's exactly what I told her: 'You've waited for this moment."'

It was part of a seven-medal showing for the United States on Wednesday. Aries Merritt and Jason Richardson finished 1-2 in the 110-metre hurdles; Brittney Reese took the gold and Janay DeLoach added a bronze in the long jump; and Lashinda Demus was the silver medalist in the 400-meter hurdles.

The US heads into the last four days of the Olympics with 20 medals in track and field, 10 short of its "Project 30" goal for the London Games.

"We are always aware of what the medal count is," Richardson said. "I know (we) can ... let the world know the Americans are the best track and field country."

- AP

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