DAEGU, SOUTH KOREA // Usain Bolt has a Friday date with redemption, seeking to put the stunning debacle of his false start in the 100 metre finals behind him by winning a world championship gold medal in the 200m instead.
Bolt said he is ready to move on from his disqualification because of the controversial one-mistake-and-you-are-out rule.
He left the stadium on Sunday night refusing to discuss the incident, but released a statement through his manager yesterday.
“Firstly, I would like to congratulate my teammate, Yohan Blake [who won the 100], and the other athletes who won the medals,” the statement read.
“Of course, I am extremely disappointed not to have had the chance to defend my title due to the false start. I was feeling great through the rounds and was ready to run fast in the final. I worked very hard to get ready for this championships and things were looking good.
“However, I have to move on now, as there is no point to dwell on the past. I have a few days to refocus and get ready for the 200m [heats] on Friday.”
The 200m is Bolt’s favourite event, and another chance at gold will be waiting in the 4x100m relays on Sunday, the last day of the championships.
“I know that I am now in good shape and will focus on running well in the 200m,” his statement said.
His coach, Glen Mills, said he expected Bolt to come back strong in his remaining events. “He’s human, isn’t he? I always knew he was human,” Mills said.
“He will pick himself up. He’s a champion.”
The Jamaican sprinter was dropped from the 100m final because of a rule that was introduced last year, which states that athletes who false start will be immediately disqualified.
The world championships are the first major event to enforce the rule.
Before the new rule, one false start was allowed, with a second meaning the disqualification of the offender.
“The rules are there. They’re the same for everyone,” Nick Davies, an International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) spokesman said.
“Usain Bolt, of course, is a fabulous performer. He’s a star athlete. But we have to be very careful not to stray into the world of show business where we say, ‘We have a star. The star must be there. The star must perform’.”
Although Blake said he had no problem with the rule, other world-class sprinters want it to be discarded.
“That false start [rule] is killing us,” Walter Dix, the 100m silver medallist, said.
“Hopefully, it will change by London [the 2012 Olympics].” Kim Collins, the bronze medallist from Saint Kitts and Nevis, also wanted the rule overturned or at least modified.
“At least give the field one false start,” Collins said. “That was the previous rule. The first false start went against the field with the offending party tossed out after the next.” The IAAF has said it is continuing to study the new rule but has no immediate plans to alter it.
That could change after having to stage a 100m final without Bolt.
“That sound you hear is the rules committee wondering how they could have ruined a whole meet with a rule no one wanted,” wrote Trinidad’s Ato Boldon, a former world champion, on his Twitter account. Tyson Gay, another former world champion, proved accurate when he predicted in June 2010: “If it happened at the Olympics or World Championships next year ... without Usain Bolt, the race is going to have an asterisk to the side.
“It just doesn’t make sense.”
Bolt is not the only athlete to run foul of the rule: Christine Ohuruogu, Britain’s Olympic 400m champion, and sprinter Dwain Chambers have also been disqualified from the competition for leaving the starting blocks early during their respective events.