After surging to victory in the 100 meters, Usain Bolt will go head-to-head with Justin Gatlin once more at the World Athletics Championships in Thursday’s final of the men’s 200m. Despite Gatlin having been the form sprinter in the world this year, it was Bolt who maintained his dominance by beating the controversial American by one hundredth of a second in the 100m final in Beijing on Sunday. And the battle promises to be just as close back at the Bird’s Nest in the longer sprint.
Bolt has taken 200m gold in each of the last three World Championships, as well as the Olympics in 2008 and 2012, and is the world record holder in the event. But, again, it is Gatlin, who returned from a four-year doping ban in 2010, who has been the man to beat of late. Indeed, the 33-year-old has not been defeated over 200m in more than two years, and has comfortably the fastest time in the world this year, at 19.57 seconds.
Gatlin went quicker in the semifinals, too, recording a time of 19.87 to take first place in his semi. And he has a powerful motivation to add to the gold he won in the event at the 2005 World Championships. Having been the favorite heading into the 100m final, Gatlin failed to produce his best as Bolt again delivered on the big stage, applying pressure that left his rival mistiming his lunge toward the line.
Bolt was comfortable as he wore a wide smile when easing across the line in 19.95 to win his 200m semifinal. And in what he calls his favorite event, the Jamaican is confident of claiming a record 10th gold at the World Championships.
"I’m a little bit tired, but I’m trying to conserve as much through the rounds," he told Universal Sports after his semifinal. "I’m just taking my time, not trying to push myself too hard. So I’m feeling good and I’m happy with getting through the rounds. I’m looking forward to [the final against Gatlin]. This is my favorite event and I’m not going to lose in my favorite event. That’s all I have to say."
Having won the first of the three semifinals, lining up between Bolt and Gatlin in lane five in the final will be Zharnel Hughes. The Anguillian-born 20-year-old, who recently gained British citizenship, is a training partner of Bolt and will now be aiming to claim a medal in his first global championship. South Africa’s Anaso Jobodwana will also be hoping to get in the top three after setting a personal best of 20.01 to finish behind Bolt in the semifinals.
Men’s 200m final start time: 8:55 a.m. EDT
TV channel: Universal Sports
Live stream: UniversalSports.com