Usain Bolt’s bid for a ‘triple-triple’ is a step closer after he breezed into Thursday’s 200 metre final.
Just three days after defending his 100m title in scintillating fashion – Bolt had time to grin for the cameras as he dominated the field – the Jamaican sprint king was at it again inside the Olympic Stadium on Wednesday.
And once again he had a smile on his face.
He won the second semi final in 19.78 seconds, ahead of Canadian Andre De Grasse (19.80secs) – who chose to try and run him down on the line.
The two shared a joke as they crossed the line, with Bolt quipping: “He [De Grasse] was supposed to slow down. I said ‘what are you doing, it’s a semi final’.
“That was really unnecessary. I don’t know what he was trying to do but he’s a young kid, he’s great.
“I think he wanted to push me. I was a bit lazy but I got round.”
Bolt – who alongside the rest of the Jamaican quartet will also bid to defend the 4x100m relay title – said after his 100m triumph he was chasing the chance to be “immortal”, and few would bet against that on current form.
He was already into his stride by the first 50 metres and, although he eased down significantly as he came down the straight, even that was not enough to allow De Grasse to overtake him.
The one man who had looked a slim possibility to deny him his chance of history was Justin Gatlin, but he failed to even make the final.
The American – twice banned from the sport for doping – won the 100m silver behind Bolt on Sunday but could only finish third in his semi in a time of 20.13secs after was beaten on the line by Panama’s Alonso Edward (20.07secs) and Churandy Martina of Netherlands (20.10secs).
A glance to the side appeared to cost Gatlin his place in the top two as he lost focus, but he blamed a niggling ankle injury for missing out.
“I’m happy to still be here [for the relays]. My ankle is giving me a lot of problems. I can’t run properly and I had a tight turn in lane three,” he said after the race.
Bolt, meanwhile, was not as shocked as many by Gatlin’s early exit.
“I wasn’t truly surprised, I thought he actually made it but I could tell from the 100m he was slowing down,” the Jamaican added.
Former world 100m champion – and Bolt’s team-mate – Yohan Blake was also run out of it into sixth.
American LaShawn Merritt qualified third fastest in 19.94secs, ahead of Frenchman Christophe Lemaitre in a season’s best 20.01secs.