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Monday 27 May 2019

Athletics: A flash of 'Lightning'

Usain Bolt celebrates his 200m world record in Berlin last night
Usain Bolt celebrates his 200m world record in Berlin last night

Cliona Foley

FORGET all that nonsense about lightning never striking twice; it struck a fourth time in Berlin last night.

Just as he did in Beijing, Usain 'Lightning' Bolt, who turns 23 today, repeated his sensational double world-record feat by winning the 200m title in a sensational 19.19 seconds.

Just as he'd done five days ago at 100m, the 6'5" Jamaican knocked exactly the same amount -- 0.11 of a second -- off his old mark (19.30), particularly remarkable considering he'd run only one 200m race this year before these championships.

Wearing a warm-up T-shirt reading 'Ich bin ein Berlino', a reference to the championship's wildly hyperactive mascot, he picked a pretend fight with laughing American rival Wallace Spearmon and looked typically relaxed beforehand.

But within split seconds of the gun he had gobbled up the American and thundered down the home straight, pointing to the clock as he crossed the line and the stadium erupted.

"I showed people my world records in Beijing were not a joke, what can be achieved with hard work and dedication," said Bolt.

Panama's Alonso Edward and Spearmon got up late to take silver and bronze in 19.81 and 19.85 respectively, the fastest times ever to take the minor medals, and the first five also made history by running sub-20.

Watching in awe was David Gillick who faces his own massive challenge when he becomes the first Irishman to contest the world 400m tonight (8.20pm).

Gillick has won two European indoor titles yet despite moving to work with Nick Dakin in Loughborough in 2006, with the blessing of his old DSD coach Jim Kidd, he struggled to break 45 seconds for two years. He finally got that monkey off his back with a breakthrough 44.77 last month and ran his third sub-45 here on Wednesday to make the last eight.

The only Briton joining him is actually an American. Michael Bingham, whose father lives in England, was only cleared to run for Britain last year.

Gillick's got a bad lane (two) as one of the two 'fastest loser' qualifiers and to his left is France's two-time finalist Leslie Djhone.

To his right is Trinidad's Olympic finalist Renny Quow, a 44.53 man, and then there's American LeShawn Merritt, the man who beat two-time defending champion Jeremy Wariner (USA) for gold in Beijing.


Wariner, who surprisingly left coach Clyde Hart (also Michael Johnson's mentor) last year, went back to him in May.

Also in the line-up is Bajan 'Nearly Man' Chris Brown, perennially fourth, including in Beijing. Back in Paris in 2003 the gold medal was won in 44.77 (Gillick's PB) but the sprint game has accelerated since. Wariner won the last two Worlds in sub-44, and 44.4 wasn't even fast enough to win a bronze in Helsinki or Osaka so that is what the Dubliner is up against.

Hoping that local darling Ariane Friedrich would beat defending high-jump champion Blanka Vlasic, last night's huge crowd was left disappointed.

Russia's Olga Chicherova actually cleared 2.02m first when Friedrich needed two attempts but when it came to 2.04m, the Croatian nailed it on her second attempt to spark off her trademark high-wiggling celebrations and Chicherova took silver on countback.

Yet another Jamaican, Melanie Walker, took gold in the 400m hurdles in a championship record of 52.42.

And, after a thrilling blanket finish, Ryan Brathwaite of Barbados took 110m hurdle gold in a national record of 13:14.

Elsewhere Britain's Paula Radcliffe has pulled out of the marathon in Berlin, deciding she is not race-fit despite testing herself by winning last Sunday's New York half-marathon.

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