Usain Bolt, Justin Gatlin through to semifinals of 200
BEIJING — Usain Bolt was back on familiar territory on Tuesday, running his favorite event and showing off why he is the greatest 200-meter runner of all time.
After the intense pressure that accompanied his come-from-behind win over Justin Gatlin in the 100 on Sunday at the world championships, Bolt was all smiles as he coasted into the semifinals of the 200. Gone was any worry about injuries, about his rival, or about stutter-steps that marred his 100 semifinal heat.
“It means a lot more to me,” Bolt said of the 200, the event in which he is a three-time defending champion and two-time Olympic gold-medalist.
Easing up with 50 meters to go and jogging at the end, Bolt crossed in 20.28 seconds, tied for 13th overall. In the heat after him, Gatlin powered to a time of 20.19.
Gatlin also outran Bolt in the 100 heats.
The run in Tuesday’s 200 heats brought back Bolt’s more usual demeanor. Instead of the frown over the weekend in the 100 heats, it was all smiles, play-acting and jokes.
When the stadium announcers spoke of his record nine world titles, he held up as many fingers. Same for his six Olympic titles. He followed that up with a double hang-loose shake of the hands.
Physically though, it is increasingly the old Bolt instead of the Bolt of old. Two seasons of injuries have taken their toll.
“I’m a little worried about my fitness,” Bolt said. “I’m tired and my legs are still sore, but I’m going to have another bath tonight and hopefully tomorrow, I’ll be there.”
The best time of the night went to Ramil Guliyev, who set a Turkish record of 20.01 seconds.
While Bolt was starting to chase his 10th gold at the worlds, Allyson Felix was closing in on her ninth, seeking to match the Jamaican’s current record. The American produced one of her trademark smooth runs to coast into the final of the 400.
Ten years after she won her first gold, a 200-meter title in Helsinki, she proved she hasn’t lost her speed, easing up at the line to cross in 49.89 seconds, her top time this season.
She was the only competitor to beat the 50-second mark, with Shericka Jackson coming in second at 50.03 seconds. Shaunae Miller of the Bahamas won the first semifinal heat in 50.12, ahead of Christine Day of Jamaica in 50.82.
Defending champion Christine Ohuruogu of Britain won the second semifinal heat in 50.16.