There was no false start for Usain Bolt this time as he easily qualified for the 200-meter semi-finals at the world championships Friday.
After jumping the gun in the 100 final on Sunday, Bolt had the second-slowest start of 53 sprinters in the 200 heats early Friday, yet easily was fastest at the line. Running a superlative bend, Bolt glanced to his left from the outside lane several times before turning off the power and coasting across the line in 20.30 seconds.
When asked how he felt, Bolt simply gave a thumbs up.
But it was a thumbs-down for double-amputee runner Oscar Pistorius. He was surprisingly left off the South African 4x400 relay team for the final after running the leadoff leg that got his team into Friday’s race with a national record.
“Haven’t Been included in the Final for the SA Mens 4x400m. Pretty Guttered,” Pistorius wrote in a Twitter message.
If anyone thought Bolt would be left feeling low by his debacle in the 100, they got immediate proof of the opposite once the Jamaican entered Daegu Stadium and heard the crowd roar.
Because of a malfunction to the starting gun, the heats were delayed by eight minutes as track officials tried to fix the problem. Bolt then did his famed “Lightning Bolt” move, getting the highest-pitched scream from the fans all morning. He fake-slicked his hair, did Kung Fu moves, danced like a boxer - anything to show he had no hang-ups about the biggest setback of his career.
He was careful enough, though, not to risk another false start, and reacted only .314 after the gun. Once he got going, there was no stopping him.
Walter Dix of the United States was second-fastest in 20.42 seconds and is considered his most credible challenger for the final.
“We’ll see,” Dix said when asked if he could get past the Olympic champion and world—record holder. “I’ll show you.”
Pistorius had nothing left to show at the championships after the South African team decided to go with L.J. van Zyl, who won bronze in the 400-meter hurdles, in the relay race.
“It was a big surprise to us. It is a disappointment, needless to say, for Oscar,” his manager, Peet van Zyl, said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “He ran a good leg.”
After making a historic breakthrough for Paralympic athletes by reaching the semifinals of the 400 early this week, the “Blade Runner” ran a strong opening leg on the tough inside lane Thursday to help South Africa to a third-place finish in its heat and a South African record.
“Gods blessed me! Semifinals in the 400m and a National Record in the 4x400m semi!Thank u all!x,” Pistorius wrote on Twitter.
Another South African, defending 800 champion Caster Semenya, put a troubled season behind her with a powerful last lap to become the top qualifier for Sunday’s final, ahead of the year’s best performer, Mariya Savinova of Russia.
A gender controversy made sure she missed last season, but Semenya came back strong in Daegu. She ran perhaps the best race of her season in 1-58.07 to make her a medal contender while many thought she would fail to make the final.
In the women’s 4x400 relay, the United States easily qualified for the final even with its two best runners, Allyson Felix and Sanya Richards-Ross, sitting out the heat. Russia was even more impressive with a world leading 3-20.94. Jamaica and Britain also made it through easily.
The finals in a heavy program late Friday also included the men’s shot put and long jump, and the women’s javelin, 5,000 and 200 meters.
The 200 will likely be a highly charged face-off between three-time defending champion Felix, 100 champion Carmelita Jeter and two-time Olympic champion Veronica Campbell-Brown.
In the 5,000, Vivian Cheruiyot of Kenya will seek to clinch a long-distance double after winning the 10,000 on the first day of the championships.