Saturday 21 April 2018

'This means more than anything,' says Bolt after sealing sprint double

The USA’s Christian Taylor is a picture of concentration as he leaps to World gold in the triple jump
The USA’s Christian Taylor is a picture of concentration as he leaps to World gold in the triple jump

Cathal Dennehy

This time, it wasn't even close. Usain Bolt dismissed Justin Gatlin's challenge with ease in the men's 200m final at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing yesterday, the Jamaican taking victory in 19.55 seconds in utterly casual fashion, 0.19 seconds ahead of Gatlin.

It had been touted as the rematch that would go the distance but in the end, it was more a first-round knock-out for Bolt, who claimed his fourth consecutive world title in the event and his tenth overall.

The Jamaican exploded from the blocks once the gun fired inside the Bird's Nest Stadium, and though Gatlin ran a strong bend, Bolt flew into the home straight with a marginal lead, one which only grew as he opened up his gargantuan stride over the final 100m.

In the end, he crossed the line beating his chest - just as he had done in the same stadium seven years ago at the 2008 Olympics - well clear of Gatlin, who ran 19.74 for second.

"I knew I had to run hard to 150," said Bolt. "The race was going to be decided by who was ahead then, so I was focused on trying to get off the turn first and get home."

Afterwards, Bolt was asked whether this meant more to him than his 100m crown, and the 29-year-old left people in no doubt about where his preferences lie. "The 100 is for the people," he said.

"The 200 is for me. This means more to me than anything else."

For Gatlin, the effect of a long season and the crushing emotional blow of losing the men's 100m on Sunday night looked to have left a mark. When the time came to stand toe to toe with Bolt once again, he could summon nothing for the fight.

"I ran a good curve and tried to kick into the straight, but I was red-lining," he said. "I kept my form as well as I could, but I'm tired from running so many rounds. It's been a long season."

Gatlin had been vilified in many sectors of the media in recent weeks, often portrayed as the man who would lower his sport's reputation into the gutter on its marquee week in the spotlight.


Does he feel he changed some minds this week in Beijing, when he was consistently gracious in defeat?

"It was never my intent to try win over any fans or change the view of who I am," he said. "The people saw a different view of me. I have no ill-will towards Usain, or to anyone. I was out there trying to get on the podium; mission accomplished."

Bolt, meanwhile, appeared on good terms with Gatlin afterwards and, if not quite accepting of his past, then he was certainly accepting of his presence.

"I have no problem with Justin Gatlin," said Bolt. "He's a competitor. I live for competition so I respect the fact that he always shows up. He talks a lot but I've learned over the years that's how he is."

An interested onlooker to Thursday night's race, meanwhile, was Bolt's agent Ricky Simms, who said he was in little doubt about the Jamaican's ability to produce the goods once again.

"We were very confident," said the Irishman. "Usain is the ultimate competitor. It's always tough when you come into championships having not posted the times you're used to but he was very confident in his ability, things were going well in training, and his coach [Glen Mills] knows how to get him ready."

The agent even said a visit to Ireland - specifically to Simms' native Donegal - was likely to be on the cards at some point for the 10-time world champion. "Definitely," he said. "I just don't know when yet. It's tough to find the time."

Meanwhile, away from the track, Christian Taylor was the undoubted star of the show, taking gold in the men's triple jump with a monstrous leap of 18.21m - the second longest jump of all time.

There was further joy for the US in the women's 400m, with Allyson Felix taking her first global title at the longer sprint discipline. The women's hammer throw title went to world record holder Anita Wlodarczyk of Poland with a championship record of 80.85m.

World Athletics Championships, Live, BBC2/Eurosport, 11.30am

Irish Independent

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