Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Bolt wins gold in 200, wins hearts after race

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MOSCOW -- Forget the race. With Usain Bolt, the real fun happens after he crosses the finish line.

Now that's entertainment.

Certainly more than his 200-metre win, when the Jamaican was so far ahead of the field that he loafed to the line with teammate Warren Weir far behind him.

And then the party was on at the world championships -- Bolt style.

Plenty of preening, lots of dancing and loads of over-the-top showboating. He did his trademark bow-and-arrow pose and kissed his muscles. He picked up a camera and snapped photos of Weir, who was trailing behind him just like in Saturday's race.

"Happy to really get it done," Bolt said. "I pushed myself all season to be the best."

As if there was ever any doubt.

Bolt almost worked up more of a sweat dancing than he did dashing down the track in 19.66 seconds (and that was with shutting it down with about 60 metres to go). He hopped and skipped to the reggae sounds of Bob Marley's Three Little Birds, much to the thrill of the crowd.

Guess that tender foot is quite all right, the one Bolt hurt when he dropped the starting blocks on it during a training session.

Even on a bum wheel, Bolt's still, well, Bolt.

This easy win, coupled with his leisurely stroll last weekend in the 100, gives him seven career gold medals at the worlds. He needs just one more to tie Carl Lewis and Michael Johnson for most-ever among men. And Bolt will go for another in the 4x100 relay today as the competition comes to a close.

"That guy is unbelievable," said American Curtis Mitchell, who finished with the bronze medal. "I trained with him in London prior to the championships. He's a great guy. He's laughing and having fun. He's a normal guy -- with superb talent."

In this race, Bolt provided all the electricity. There was no lightning before the race, no rain drops to add to the drama.

He created the drama -- or took the drama out -- by pulling away after rounding the curve. Although Bolt promised to run all-out all the way to the finish -- and possibly make a run at his world record of 19.19 -- he backed off the accelerator because of tired legs and an aching foot.

That's good enough these days, especially with no Tyson Gay (doping offence) or Yohan Blake (hamstring injury) to push him.

Asked if Bolt was simply on another planet when it comes to sprinting, Weir responded: "If you call Jamaica another planet -- yes."

"He pulled me," Weir said. "He gives me energy."

Without a doubt, Bolt is the undisputed face of track, especially when he's on his game. And he took advantage of the spotlight Saturday, hugging everyone in sight, signing autographs and even bowing to the crowd.

Bolt's medal pushed Jamaica into third place with four golds.

The United States got its only gold on the night from 21-year-old Brianna Rollins, who surged at the end of the 100 hurdles to beat Olympic champion Sally Pearson in 12.44 seconds, edging the Australian by .06 seconds.

Jessica Zelinka of London, Ont., was eliminated in the semifinal earlier Saturday with a time of 13.12 seconds.

"It's the strongest I've ever been, the fastest I've ever been, lack of coaching has played a role here," Zelinka said. "Haven't been able to sharpen up with my hurdling, otherwise I feel great."

Early in the day, Olympic champion Stephen Kiprotich became the first non-Kenyan since 2005 to win the men's marathon gold medal at the world championships.

The Ugandan broke away from Boston Marathon winner Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia in the shaded park around Luhzniki Stadium to win his country's first men's world title in the 30-year history of the championships.

"I am so happy I won another gold medal for my country," Kiprotich said. "Now I am the Olympic and world champion."

Another Ethiopian, Tadese Tola, took bronze on a warm afternoon in the Russian capital.

Rob Watson of Vancouver was 20th.

"I am super pumped about placing 20th, my ultimate goal coming in was a top 20 performance," he said. "When you're hurting and suffering but passing people it makes it that much easier, you're suffering for a cause, not just hanging on for dear life.

"I was ranked 48th coming in, I just wanted to beat people in a race."

Later in the evening, Ethiopian veteran Meseret Defar added the 5,000 world title to her Olympic gold, coming out of the slipstream of teammate Almaz Ayana to win with a strong finish.

-- from the news services

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 18, 2013 B13

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