Bolt, Gatlin ready for showdown in 200 meters at worlds
BEIJING (AP) A day before another showdown with his latest rival, Usain Bolt didn't show even the slightest trace of anxiety.
Why would he? When you're this good - the Jamaican is going for a fourth straight world championship title in the 200 meters on Thursday night - you can afford to be extremely confident.
''Showing people that when it comes to the big time, I always show up and get things done,'' Bolt said.
Justin Gatlin could have something to say about that. The American gets another crack at Bolt after losing a close race in the 100 on Sunday.
Gatlin was actually a favorite among the bettors in that one, in part because he looked so dominant in the rounds. This time, not so much. This is Bolt's favorite event.
''I'm more professional with 200 meters,'' Bolt said. ''I'm just trying to get it done.''
Their semifinal heats on Wednesday were a contrast in styles. Gatlin went out with a vengeance, winning his heat in 19.87 seconds, which was the second-fastest semifinal time at the worlds.
''I didn't think I was running that fast,'' Gatlin said.
Bolt didn't run all that hard at all. Maybe for the first 150 meters or so, but after that he put it on cruise control. He even flashed a quick grin at South African sprinter Anaso Jobodwana, who was trying to push him from the lane to his left.
''It was very easy,'' Bolt explained. ''I don't expend a lot of energy. It was a smooth race.
''I've learned over the years I'm a great competitor. Everybody knows that. It's all about focus now.''
Gatlin is focused, too. On catching up to Bolt. On breaking his rival's hold on the world title.
A day before the final, he wasn't about to give away any race strategy about how he was going to accomplish that, only saying his plan was to ''stay in front.''
''That's what it's going to take,'' Gatlin said. ''I think I have a lot left in the tank.''
Here are some things to know about Day 6 of the world championships:
A three-time world champion in the 200, Allyson Felix is chasing her first title in the 400. She decided to race the 400 to take a break from the 200, which is her signature event, because of scheduling. Felix wouldn't mind going after the 200-400 double at the Olympics next year in Rio de Janeiro, but the schedule as it stands now is also too tight. International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach recently said the Olympic program isn't completely set, leaving open the possibility that Felix could attempt the feat.
BEST FOOT FORWARD
Most of his life, Olympic champion Christian Taylor has started his leaps off his left foot in the triple jump. Because of injuries, he switched things around and now begins his jumps off his right foot. Whatever foot, the American always seems to turn in big jumps and easily qualified for the final. So did Pedro Pablo Pichardo of Cuba. Both of them have gone over the 18-meter mark this season.
Earlier this month, Anita Wlodarczyk of Poland set the world hammer throw record of 81.08 meters. Should she win Thursday, don't expect her to leap into the air in excitement. That's already cost her once. She severed a ligament in her ankle when she celebrated her world title in 2009 and missed the rest of the season.
The Americans are looking to become the first nation to sweep the 100 hurdles at the worlds. The squad has four of the top sprinters in the world in Dawn Harper-Nelson, Sharika Nelvis, Kendra Harrison and Brianna Rollins. The biggest threat to interrupt that medal monopoly could be British runner Tiffany Porter, who was born and raised in the United States.
Veronica Campbell-Brown veered off course in the first-round of the 200 on Wednesday night. But she's still on course for another title as she rolls into the semifinal round in an event that's missing big names such as Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Allyson Felix. Campbell-Brown rounded the curve of Lane 5 in her first-round heat and kept going into Lane 6. She wasn't disqualified because she didn't ''gain any advantage as she did not shorten the distance,'' the IAAF explained.