Usain Bolt kept his bid for an unprecedent eighth medal in sprint on track after winning qualifying for the men’s 200m semi-finals on Tuesday. He clocked 20.28 seconds in the heats to qualify for the next round.
Bolt ran in Heat 9 of the 200m and went to win it with easily with bringing down his pace in the last 30 metres. Bolt is bidding for another treble of medals after winning the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay medals at the last two Olympics.
He won his seventh medal in sprint after winning the 100m race at the Rio 2016 Olympics with a timing of 9.69 seconds on Sunday.
Usain Bolt in 200m Heats: As it happened
2110 hrs IST: Usain Bolt is through! He wins the heat in 20.28 seconds. He just walked the last 40 metres
2107 hrs IST: Usain Bolt is on the tracks and he will running in lane 5
2103 hrs IST: Heat number eight is won by Lashawn Merritt in 20.15 seconds and Christophe Lemaitre is second in 20.28 seconds
2057 hrs IST: Nery Brenes is the first to cross the line with 20.20 seconds and Churandy Martina is second with 20.29 seconds
2054 hrs IST: Heat number seven coming up next! Two more to go before Usain Bolt is out
2051 hrs IST: Nickel Ashmeade runs the heat in 20.15 seconds to win. Adam Gemili is second with 20.20
2048 hrs IST: Athletes are ready to run heat 6. These are the heats to qualify for semi-finals
2043 hrs IST: A good run from Justin Gatlin and he wins the heat in 20.43 seconds. Matteo Galvan second in 20.58 seconds
2038 hrs IST: The fourth heat is over! Jose Carlos Herrera wins in 20.29 seconds and Roberto Skyers qualifies in 20.44 seconds
2033 hrs IST: Salem Eid Yaqoob wins Heat 3 in 20.19 seconds and Ramil Guliyev is second with 20.23
2028 hrs IST: Hortelano Bruno qualifies first with a timing of 20.12 seconds. Yohan Blake second with 20.12 seconds
2022 hrs IST: Alonso Edward from Great Britain wins heat 1 in 20.19. Daniel Talbot qualifies as second with 20.27
2020 hrs IST: Here are the athletes for the 100m heat 1. Bolt will run in heat 9
The quest for immortality can have a few mortal moments — like Usain Bolt’s start on the gun, the second slowest in the men’s 100m sprint with a 0.155-second reaction time.
Earlier, while warming up, he had wildly cheered Wayde van Niekerk’s world record in the men’s 400m — an event that Bolt has always maintained will be a challenge, and one he wants to try out some day.
That the god of sprints can age — he turns 30 next month — and slow down just a bit was apparent from what was the slowest of his three Olympic 100m sprints at Beijing, London and Rio. He won all three.
Around the 70m mark, he raced ahead and mocked Justin Gatlin of the US, edging ahead in his last four strides to finish in 9.81 seconds — though he didn’t find enough mini-seconds to look back at his rivals this time.
Those quibbles apart, the world’s most recognised athlete is on track to achieve his triple treble over 100m, 200m and 4x100m and, in his words, become immortal.
Gatlin, a two-time dope offender, was booed. Bolt’s closest contender and a perennial second place finisher, Gatlin was jeered because the American lined up against the worshipping folk’s favourite god.
It wasn’t the typical Bolt show, though everything that followed fell into the Bolt script: he nodded at cameras at the start, thumped his chest at the end, and ran straight to where the photographers were to do a shadowy imitation of the Lightening Bolt.
It’s all too familiar, but like talk show gags, no one tires of the same things since it is Bolt.
It was a nervous race for the Olympian, so he threw more impressive lines in the end. “Somebody said I can become immortal,” said Bolt. “Two more medals to go and I can sign off. Immortal.”
“It wasn’t perfect today, but I got it done and I’m pretty proud of what I’ve achieved,” he said. “Nobody else has done it or even attempted it. I expected to go faster, but I’m happy that I won. I did what I had to.”
The world record holder at 100m and 200m had the season’s best 9.86 in his semi-final. “This is what we train for. I told you guys I was going to do it. Stay tuned. Two more to go.”
Gatlin, whose first drugs ban in 2001 was reduced because he said he was treating attention deficit disorder, should be suitably cured with his entire attention focussed on Bolt over the next two runs.
He tried to be brave in stating his importance: “When it comes down to it, I have given him his closest races all his career,” Gatlin, 34, said.
Usain Bolt is in the Village for close to a week now and as his competition date nears, world’s fastest man is gunning for not one, not two but all three medals at Rio 2016 Olympics. Bolt checked into the Village on July 3 and the star athlete has maintained a low profile ever since his arrival. The Jamaican athlete gave the opening ceremony a miss and is focussed on defending his 100m, 200m and 4x100m titles he clinched at Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympic Games.
Village-bound for the “longest duration”, Bolt can’t wait to get on the track and run and compete. “I just can’t wait to run. It’s been boring just sitting around training all the time. I just want to run. I think it’s the longest I have been in a village as normally we get in four days before or five days before but been here a week now. I’m just excited to run. I just want to go there and compete and I’m looking forward to it,” Bolt said in an interview to CNN.
Gunning to become the first athlete to win all three titles at three Games on the trot, Bolt execuded confidence and feels he has what it takes to win the events he is participating in. “I’m going to win the 100m. I never try to predict times, I avoid that because you never know. I’ll win all three gold [medals], there’s never anything else for me when it comes to a championship.”
Medals apart, Bolt is also eyeing a world record in the 200m dash. He wants to go under 19 seconds and assures he will go out there and “push” for the same. “I think I can definitely break the 200m world record and I definitely want to. I said I wanted to go under 19 seconds and I don’t know if that will be possible but nothing tried, nothing done, so I will go out there and push myself,” said Bolt.
“The moment you start thinking about [not winning] then you start going the wrong way so for me I always think positive. I always think of winning, always,” he added.