|Usain Bolt crosses the finish line in 19.4 seconds - .21 seconds off the world record - to win the 200 meters. (David J. Phillip/Associated Press)|
Bolt makes up ground in 200
He gets the gold and redemption
DAEGU, South Korea - Six days and a slow start later, Usain Bolt finally won gold at the World Championships, running the fourth-fastest 200 meters in history yesterday to back up his showmanship with a stunning performance.
Coming off a disqualification for a false start in the 100 final last Sunday that he blamed on “anxiety,’’ Bolt was slowest out of the blocks in the 200 but drove through the bend and powered to the line in 19.40 seconds, just 0.21 off the world record he set to win his first world title two years ago.
“I was close to the world record,’’ Bolt said. “I wasn’t in the best of shape, so I wasn’t expecting world record. For me to come here and do 19.4 was a wonderful achievement.’’
Knowing he had something to prove, there was no braggadocio during the race. Instead, he gritted his teeth over the last 20 meters before dipping across the line for the fastest time in two years.
“I am still the best,’’ Bolt told an elated crowd of about 45,000 at Daegu Stadium before starting a barefoot dance to a deafening beat. “It was beautiful.’’
Walter Dix of the United States won his second sprint silver in 19.70 and Christophe Lemaitre earned bronze with a French record of 19.80.
Bolt was a defending champion coming through on a night of two big upsets. In the high jump, Anna Chicherova of Russia beat two-time defending champion Blanka Vlasic of Croatia, and in the men’s javelin, Matthias De Zordo of Germany overcame favorite Andreas Thorkildsen of Norway.
Australian Sally Pearson ran the fastest 100 hurdles race in almost two decades to win gold. Pearson’s time of 12.28 seconds was the fastest since 1992 and moved her into fourth on the all-time list.
Yet, as so often when Bolt is in the stadium, there was nothing to match the Jamaican.
Before his race, he fist-bumped with the volunteer who carried his belongings, practiced his “Lightning Bolt’’ move, and shushed the crowd with a finger to his lips before he sank into the blocks.
There was going to be no second disqualification. With a reaction time of 0.193 seconds, he was the slowest out of the blocks. But from there on, everything went like a whirlwind.
“I was running hard just to say to fans, ‘Sorry about the 100 meters,’ ’’ Bolt said.
Dix was running in Lane 4 just ahead of the Jamaican and surprisingly held off Bolt for much of the bend.
“I have never ran in Lane 3, ever,’’ Bolt said. “It was difficult for me.’’
But once beyond the bend, Bolt got rolling and left the others behind.
He eyed the giant television screen and could see he was unchallenged in his favorite event, but carried through to the end to prove a point that there was no dent in his confidence ahead of the London Olympics.
“There will be no joking round,’’ Bolt said. “I’ll be serious and I will come out and work hard.’’
It was Bolt’s fourth gold over two world championships, and he is expected to anchor his country’s 400 relay today in another Jamaica-vs.-US sprint duel.
Allyson Felix ran the second leg on the winning 1,600 relay team to claim her seventh gold over four world championships.
The Kenyans extended their dominance of the middle- and long-distance events with Olympic champion Asbel Kiprop leading Silas Kiplagat in the 1,500 for yet another Kenyan 1-2 finish.