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London Olympics: Usain Bolt stars in morning track session

August 07, 2012|By Helene Elliott
  • Usain Bolt competes in a men's 200-meter heat Tuesday.
Usain Bolt competes in a men's 200-meter heat Tuesday. (Lee Jin-man / Associated…)

LONDON — It’s always entertaining when Usain Bolt competes, and on Tuesday the Jamaican 100-meter gold medalist returned to the track to run the first heat of the 200 and put on a show for the crowd during the morning track-and-field session at Olympic Stadium.

Bolt went through his usual pre-race poses and gestures and put in some effort before jogging to the finish line in time to win his heat in 20.39 seconds. The fastest qualifying time was posted by Alex Quinonez of Ecuador, a national-record 20.28. Also faster were Jamaica's Warren Weir (20.29), Christopher Lemaitre fof France (20.34) and Yohan Blake of Jamaica, the 100-meter silver medalist. Blake's 200 time on Tuesday was 20.38.

Americans Isiah Young (20.55), Maurice Mitchell (20.54) and Wallace Spearmon Jr., (20.47) all advanced to Wednesday’s semifinals.

“It’s my first round, so I was happy with myself. It’s just about qualifying and taking it as easy as possible,” Bolt said. “It feels good here. I’m looking forward to [Wednesday]. I’ll have to push myself a little more.”

Some of that push will come on technical aspect of handling the turn. ”I’m looking forward to the next round to test myself on the corners and take it out,” he said.

For Young, who a few months ago was competing at the NCAA championships for the University of Mississippi, running alongside the world-record holder in the first heat was a new experience. Young had Lane 4, with Bolt in Lane 5.

“It was different. He’s more experienced so he knew how to pretty much get through this round. I don’t,” Young said. “I don’t think he was all-out at all. I think he was on cruise control coming off the turn.”

Mitchell said he was in high school and watched from home when Bolt won gold at the Beijing Games in the 100, 200 and 4x100 relay. That immediately inspired Mitchell’s own Olympic ambitions.

“I told myself, 'I want to be there,'” Mitchell said. “I’m just thankful to be in this type of atmosphere and represent USA.

“He’s phenomenal. I’m just trying to do what I can to get myself up there.... He brings a good style to the sport. He helps guys like me who want to live out my dream.”

Spearmon is a friend of Bolt’s, and the two text or chat often and joke with each other. Spearmon also said that after he bought a new sports car and told Bolt about it, Bolt went out and bought the same one.

“And now he has a sponsorship deal with them, so Lord knows what’s going to happen to his car after a while,” Spearmon said, “but as of now my car is faster.”

Being faster than Bolt on the track would be more important for Spearmon.

“I’m liking my chances right now. I just feel good,” Spearmon said. “I have a good feeling about it.”

Spearmon also said he and Tyson Gay, recognizing the lack of depth in the 4x400 relay pool, volunteered to compete. “Myself and Tyson Gay offered our legs for the country,” he said.

But the coaches’ reactions weren’t encouraging. “They kind of laughed,” Spearmon said.

Aside from success in  the 110-meter hurdles, Americans had mixed results in the other morning events.

None of the three entrants in the women’s javelin throw made it past the qualifying round, and only two of three women made it out of the first round of the 5,000. Molly Huddle of Elmira, N.Y., qualified eighth with a time of 15 minutes, 2.26 seconds, and Juley Culley of Clinton, N.J., ranked 12th with a personal-best time of 15:05.38. Kim Conley of West Sacramento didn’t advance after being timed in 15:14.48. The top time belonged to Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia, who won gold in the 10,000 last week.

Both men in the triple jump moved on, but Will Claye, who already has a bronze medal from the long jump, needed a big final jump to advance. His best was 55 feet, 4 1/4 inches. Christian Taylor qualified with his first jump, 56-5 1/4.

“It was close but I made it through and that’s all I’m worried about, making it through,” Claye said. “Coming to the finals I’ll have a better attitude and my body will feel a lot better. I’m not too worried. I know what I have to do so I just have to get my mind and body right and come Thursday, I’ll do it.”

Tuesday's evening session will include the men's high jump final, women's long jump qualification, the women's 100-meter hurdles semifinals and final, men's discus throw final, men's 800-meter semifinals, the women's 200 semifinals and the men's 1,500-meter finals. 

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