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Updated: August 16, 2009 16:38 IST

Bolt, Gay ready for the big one

AP
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Tyson Gay of the United States competes in a Men's 100m first round heat during the World Athletics Championships in Berlin on Saturday.
AP Tyson Gay of the United States competes in a Men's 100m first round heat during the World Athletics Championships in Berlin on Saturday.

Usain Bolt and Tyson Gay are ready for the biggest show of the world championships.

If they make it through the semi-finals on early Sunday, the evening session will produce the most anticipated race since the Olympics: a three-time Olympic champion against a three-time world champion for the 100 meters world title.

Little wonder it is dubbed all over Berlin as ``Das Duell,'' and has caught the imagination of fans all over the world.

During two rounds on Saturday, both lived up to their star billing.

All smiles and jokes, Bolt cruised through the heats, even letting less heralded Daniel Bailey win a quarterfinal heat. No worries — a loss in the first couple of rounds does not really count as a loss.

Putting in more effort and testing his tender groin, Gay joined him, setting up the prospect of a Sunday showdown in the final.

Gay won his quarterfinal race in 9.98 seconds, and Bolt cruised in at 10.03.

After limiting training over the past week, Gay was moving as good as ever. ``I haven't even worked on my starts yet,'' Gay said. ``So to run that fast felt good.''

After Asafa Powell flirted with elimination in the opening heat, he was all focus in the evening, clocking the fastest qualifying time of the quarterfinals with a run of 9.95, proving the pace of both the track at the Olympic Stadium and the quality of competition.

Powell redeemed himself after a lackadaisical opening heat when he eased up so much he qualified only by .02 seconds.

``I was running too easy. I underestimated the guys,'' Powell said. ``It's kind of scary.''

The former world record holder — who only entered the worlds because the IAAF insisted Jamaica not cut him for failure to attend a mandatory training camp — did prove his class in the quarterfinals.

Just after the 100, the women's 10,000 was also decided by fractions of seconds.

Linet Masai of Kenya broke a decade-long hold of Ethiopia on the race with a blistering finishing kick which took a prematurely celebrating Meselech Melkamu of Ethiopia totally by surprise. Masai beat her by .10 seconds in a time of 30:51.24. Ethiopia got bronze, too, with Wude Ayalew crossing third.

Pre-race favorite Meseret Defar ended up fifth after she almost came to a halt over the closing meters despite leading into the final straight.

Olympic and two-time defending world champion Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia did not compete because of injury.

The United States won its first gold of the championships when Christian Cantwell produced the top throw of the season with a toss of 22.02 meters to beat Olympic champion Tomasz Majewski of Poland.

Apart from the 100, Sunday's program also includes finals in the women's 20K walk, heptathlon and shot put. Britain's Jessica Ennis leads the heptathlon after four of seven events, ahead of Olympic champion Nataliya Dobrynska and Germany's Jennifer Oeser.

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