x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Lightning strikes twice for Bolt at World Athletics Championships

Jamaican cruises to victory in the men's 200m final while Russia jump past US in the gold-medal standings and Ugandan wins men's marathon.

Usain Bolt of Jamaica, right, celebrates winning the men's 200m final next to second place finisher, teammate Warren Weir, during the World Athletics Championships in Moscow on Saturday. Kai Pfaffenbach / Reuters
Usain Bolt of Jamaica, right, celebrates winning the men's 200m final next to second place finisher, teammate Warren Weir, during the World Athletics Championships in Moscow on Saturday. Kai Pfaffenbach / Reuters

MOSCOW // Usain Bolt has competitors, but when his mind is focused he still has no rivals. He coasted to his third successive 200-metre world title last night with the race all but over as soon as he entered the finishing straight.

His Jamaican teammate Warren Weir never got close to Bolt's world-leading time of 19.66 seconds, but crossing .13 seconds later for silver still left him enough time to join Bolt in a reggae dance to Bob Marley's Three Little Birds.

Curtis Mitchell of the United States took bronze in 20.24 seconds, but was never in the hunt for gold.

Bolt, 26, hailed his double triumph at the World Championships in Moscow as a stepping stone on the way to a second defence of his Olympic gold medals, in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

First, Bolt will go for his fourth triple gold at a major championship when he joins the Jamaican team for the 4x100 relay on Sunday.

The wealth of Jamaican sprinting is such that they might well sweep their American rivals in unprecedented fashion, after Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce clinched a similar 100-200 double and also has her final relay Sunday, on the closing day of the championships.

Seven opponents were unable to stay close to Bolt on Saturday, and once it was clear his right foot was OK, after he dropped a starting block on it early in the week, everything was as good as gold.

Even his start was strong as he quickly gained a decisive edge. And then in the finishing straight, Bolt fully let loose his giant stride, the one that has destroyed rivals since he won three gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

"I had to push myself to be the best," he said. "I'm really happy to get it done as the 200m is my favourite event.

"I knew it wouldn't be the fastest of races; when I came into the straight I felt slightly tired and I started to look around me."

His seventh world title leaves him one shy of the American greats Carl Lewis and Michael Johnson, who lead the overall gold medal standings in the 30-year history of the event. On Sunday, Bolt can pull even with them.

His maturity showed as the wild hot-dogging of the Beijing Games gave way to a sense of near-seriousness. His Lightning Bolt stance came late and besides the dance steps, everything was contained. The only thing that never changes is the gold.

Russia jumped past the United States in the gold-medal standings with two fine performances on Saturday. Their women's 4x400 relay team overtook the heavily favoured US quartet, and Svetlana Shkolina overtook Brigetta Barrett of the US in the high jump.

The Russian won by three centimetres with a leap of 2.03m. The defending world champion Anna Chicherova, who is also the Olympic champion, settled for bronze after clearing 1.97m.

"The crowd's roar for the 4x400 relay really put me up for my last attempt," Shkolina said.

With the closing day to come, Russia leads the gold-medal standings with seven, ahead of the US with six. Overall, the American team leads the host nation 20-15.

Bolt's medal pushed Jamaica into third place with four golds. The Americans got their only gold of the day from the 21-year-old Brianna Rollins, who surged at the end of the 100m hurdles to finish in 12.44 seconds, beating Australia's Olympic champion Sally Pearson by .06 seconds.

Early in the day, the Olympic champion Stephen Kiprotich became the first non-Kenyan since 2005 to win the men's marathon gold medal at the World Championships. The Ugandan broke away from the Boston Marathon winner Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia in the shaded park around Luhzniki Stadium to win his country's first men's world title in the 30-year history of the championships.

Later in the evening, the Ethiopian veteran Meseret Defar added the 5,000m world title to her Olympic gold medal, coming out of the slipstream of her teammate, Almaz Ayana, to win with a strong finish. Defar, the 2007 world champion, finished in 14 minutes, 50.19 seconds, beating the silver medallist Mercy Cherono of Kenya by 1.03 seconds.

Ayana did most of the heavy work for Defar but weakened near the end. She still won her first major championship medal, in 14:51.33.

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