Mon, Jul 02, 2012 - Page 19 News List

LONDON 2012 OLYMPICS: Stage set for Bolt, Blake clash

BAD YEAR:The world’s fastest man has had a slew of false starts in the past year, the most famous in South Korea, which made it possible for Blake to win the title

AP, KINGSTON, JAMAICA

Usain Bolt, center, runs in the men’s 200m semi-final at the Jamaican Olympic trials in Kingston, Jamaica, on Saturday.

Photo: Reuters

Usain Bolt’s latest drama in the starting blocks — a firing of the false start gun that did not result in any disqualification — was only a minor blip as he won his 200m semi-final at the Jamaican Olympic trials on Saturday.

Bolt won in 20.26 seconds to set up a final yesterday against Yohan Blake, who won his semi-final in 19.93 seconds.

Bolt conceded to being distracted by action on the starting line during a bad start that played into his shock loss to Blake in the 100m on Friday. This time, though, he said there were no such issues.

“No, no, no,” Bolt said. “The 200 is much more easy. I’m not seeing anybody, so it’s much more easy.”

However, last week — the past year, really — has been full of trouble in the starting blocks for the World’s Fastest Man.

Most famously, Bolt got hit with a false start at world championships in South Korea last year, which opened the door for Blake to win the title.

Given a chance to finally race against Bolt, Blake backed it up with his 9.75-second shocker at National Stadium on Friday night.

That time, the best in the world this year, was good for a 0.11 second win over Bolt, almost all of which Bolt gave up during an atrocious start. It was his second bad start of the day. Those, combined with the false start that delayed his very first 100m heat of the meet last week, certainly cannot be helping his mindset with the London Olympics only four weeks away.

“It is kind of hard to run people down like Asafa [Powell] and Blake, with his top-end speed, but for me to get left in the blocks like that is really bad,” Bolt said after the Friday-night loss.

The start is not as crucial in the 200, of course, and Bolt has always considered that his better event.

He will have his hands full and might not get a middle lane — normally considered the best starting point for any race around the curves.

He only had the fourth-fastest time of all the qualifiers — behind Blake, Warren Weir (9.99) and Nickel Ashemeade, so all three of those runners will get preferred spots.

“It’s all about qualifying now,” Bolt said. “I paced myself and I am glad. Blake and Weir ran faster than me, so I think they’ll get the [better] lanes.”

There were no surprises in the women’s semi-finals.

Veronica Campbell-Brown, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Sherone Simpson and Kerron Stewart all advanced and will race in Sunday’s final.

Campbell-Brown is going for her third straight Olympic gold medal. She won her semi-final in 22.79 seconds. Around the time she was done, word was already filtering to Jamaica about her biggest rival — Allyson Felix, who won the 200m final at US trials in a personal-best 21.69 seconds.

“Absolutely, I’ve been watching and checking the results,” said Campbell-Brown, who won her Olympic golds by beating Felix in Beijing and Athens. “They are my competitors, so I have to know what they are doing.”

Among the few Olympics spots handed out on a light on Saturday in Jamaica were the 110m hurdles. Hansle Parchment, Andrew Riley and Richard Phillips all qualified.

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