DAEGU, South Korea, (Reuters) – The doubters said Usain Bolt was vulnerable and that his star was on the wane. In response, the Jamaican showman silenced his critics yesterday with the fastest feet in the world.
Six days after his humiliating disqualification from the 100 metres final, the lanky Jamaican blew away his rivals in the 200, his favourite event, to retain his Berlin title and give the Daegu crowd the show they had been waiting for.
The 25-year-old, who set the world record of 19.19 in winning the title in Berlin two years ago, has struggled to regain top form after a back injury ended his 2010 season prematurely but he was back to his imperious best on the penultimate day of competition.
“I wasn’t running angry, I was running hard just to say to fans sorry about the 100 metres,” said Bolt. Only he and Michael Johnson have run 19.40 or faster over 200 metres.
“I came out here to do my best…19.40 for me, it is a good time. I am not in my best shape, but it is all about fun and enjoyment. Fans will decide if I made it up to them.”
Bolt admitted he had been anxious before last Sunday’s 100 final, which had contributed to his false start.
“I think it was anxiety,” he said. “I was ready to go, I was excited, I wanted to get on the track and run. “Anxiety got the best of me. I was in the blocks and after he said ‘set’ a second after that I thought I heard someone say ‘go’. I left the blocks. It was all my fault.”
During the race buildup to the 200 final yesterday, Bolt looked loose and relaxed, playfully fist-bumping with the track assistant looking after his gear and handing him his numbers.
After putting his fingers to his lips to hush the crowd as the runners took their marks, the world record holder burst from the blocks in lane three and ate up the ground on American Walter Dix on his outside in a matter of strides.
Moving up through the gears around the bend, Bolt emerged at the top of the home straight with the race in the bag, pushing himself towards the line as the crowd rose to the sight of Bolt in full flight.
With his country’s flag draped around his shoulders like a cape, the Jamaican super-sprinter worked the Korean crowd into a frenzy, delivering his signature victory pose and playing cat-and-mouse with the chasing pack of photographers.
Bolt said he was looking forward to the chance of winning another gold in the 4×100 today and paid tribute to Frenchman Lemaitre, who clocked 19.80 to finish behind Dix.
“It is good to run a good 200. It is my favorite event,” he added. “I said over the years that Christophe was going to be a good athlete.”