London 2012 Olympics: Usain Bolt cruises into final with plenty to spare
USAIN Bolt’s quest for a second Olympic sprint double remains very much on course after a convincing victory last night in his semi-final of the 200
The Jamaican, who won the 100m on Sunday ahead of his compatriot Yohan Blake and Warren Gatlin of the United States, again displayed the remarkable art of moving very fast while looking very languid, crossing the line in 20.18 seconds.
“It is all about going through as easy as possible,” the world record-holder said after qualifying fifth fastest overall for tonight’s final. “I am ready: this is my favourite event. The track is fast. It’s going to be a good race, [with] a lot of good competitors.”
The Olympic Stadium track is indeed fast, but will it – and Bolt – be fast enough to produce a world record? The 25-year-old set the current mark of 19.19 three years ago in Berlin, but may still be that little bit short of optimal fitness here to threaten that time.
Nonetheless, he remains the favourite to win tonight – and then to replicate his triple triumph in Beijing four years ago by leading his team to sprint relay gold on Saturday. Although he is not yet at his absolute best after his preparations for these Games were disrupted by back trouble, he is confident he is close enough to it to confound those who wrote off his chances.
“That’s how people are,” he said. “They are always doubting a champion. But that is why I am here, to cement my legendary status. I am focused and I am ready.” The 100m silver medallist Blake won the first semi-final in 20.01, ahead of America’s Wallace Spearmon (20.02). “The race was a walk in the park,” Blake said. “I’ve been working hard: all I needed to do was kick well. There is always a good chance [of winning the final], but mistakes can happen.”
France’s European champion Christophe Lemaitre was third in 20.03, and had to wait before learning that he had qualified as one of two fastest losers. The other was Alex Quinonez of Ecuador, third in the second semi in 20.37, which was quick enough to spell an end to Christian Malcolm’s hopes of reaching the final. The Welshman was third in his semi-final in 20.51, behind Churandy Martina of the Netherlands (20.17), and a third Jamaican, Warren Weir (20.28).
Anaso Jobodwana of South Africa (20.27) was the second automatic qualifier behind Bolt in the second of three semi-finals, and although he is one of the eight who appears to have the smallest chance of a medal, Bolt hinted that there would be quite a few contenders. “Spearmon has been here before, so he knows what it takes. There’s lots of people that could spoil the party.”
Britain’s Mo Farah is another athlete going in search of an individual double after winning the 10,000m last Saturday, and he took a step nearer his goal yesterday morning with qualification in the heats of the 5,000m. With the first five going through automatically, Farah seemed to have an easy ride over the 12 and a half laps, finishing third in the first of two heats in 13mins 26.00sec, but he said later he still felt fatigued after his efforts four days earlier.
“I’m definitely tired and I think it showed out there. It wasn’t easy, I’ve got a couple of days’ rest now. I’ve got to recover well and get ready for the final and I’ve just got to forget about what I’ve done. There’s zero pressure: it’s the pressure you put on yourself - and I’m not putting any pressure on myself. It’s amazing to have the crowd, and I want to do well in a way for the crowd and the support: it drives you further. Whatever I do I’m going to give it 110 percent.
“I got caught so many times, but I’ve got a very long stride, that’s why I get caught. There was a lot of pushing and shoving trying to stay out of trouble. It wasn’t a great race, but I got through. That’s the important bit.”
With places up for grabs for fastest losers, the second heat was far faster than the first, meaning Farah finished 15th fastest overall. The first eight men home in that heat beat the old Olympic record, with one of them being Galen Rupp. The American, second in the 10,000m and Farah’s training partner, was another to show signs of tiredness as he qualified in sixth place.
The fastest qualifiers for Saturday’s final were two Ethiopians, Dejen Gebremeskel and Yenew Alamirew. The former clocked 13:15.15 in winning the second heat, with his compatriot less than a quarter of a second behind. Farah’s heat was won by Hayle Ibrahimov of Azerbaijan in 13:25.23.
Also in the morning session, Sophie Hitchon set a British hammer record and new lifetime best to finish fifth in Group A of the qualifying round and qualify for tomorrow’s final. The world junior champion had already set three British records this season, but extended the 71.61m record she set in April, with a throw of 71.98m.
“The crowd makes a huge difference,” she said. “They’re all behind you and everyone just wants you to do well. It makes you feel really motivated to perform. “As soon as I walked in I knew I could do this. It was pretty much all or nothing when I produced my big throw, but as soon as I let go, I knew. And when [the score] came up I was elated.”
Elsewhere, Sophie Hitchon improved her own British record in the last round of qualifying to reach the women’s hammer final. Hitchon was set to bow out after a first-round attempt of 67.21m and a foul in the second, but the 21-year-old then produced a superb throw of 71.98m, 37cm further than her previous best and enough for tenth overall after an anxious wait for the second qualifying group to finish.
Steve Lewis had an easier time in qualifying for the pole vault final, a single clearance of 5.50m proving enough to go through as one of the 14 qualifiers, meaning the 26-year-old can try to emulate his room-mate Greg Rutherford, the long jump champion, in tomorrow’s final.
There was no sign of nerves as Australia’s Olympic champion Steve Hooker also qualified for the pole vault final.
Hooker has been suffering a crisis of confidence this season likened to the “yips” experienced by golfers and only made the Games after his sponsors put on a special pole vault event. But the 30-year-old, with his hair tied back in a ponytail, showed no emotion as he sailed over his opening height of 5.50 metres. That was enough for Hooker, who has a best of 6.06 indoors, to finish tied for ninth and secure a place in the final.
“I got in a great opener. It was good to get that done and out of the way,” Hooker told reporters.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 10 C to 20 C
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Wind direction: North east