September 11, 2009

THESSALONIKI, Greece (AP) -- Usain Bolt lined up for a race against a 5-year-old boy -- and lost.

The short run through a cheering crowd Friday, however, certainly won't diminish Bolt's status as the top sprinter in the world or dampen expectations for another victory at this weekend's World Athletics Final.

"It was really fun with the kids," said Bolt, who was cheered on by about 200 students on a Thessaloniki street and smiled as he let the boy finish first. "A very warm reception."

Bolt is one of about 300 athletes that will compete in the two-day meet at Kaftanzoglio stadium. The Jamaican, who set world records in the 100 and 200 meters at last month's world championships in Berlin, will only run in the 200 this weekend. Sprint rivals Asafa Powell and Tyson Gay will run against each other in the 100.

Although Bolt is not predicting another world record, he is ready to win.

"If the crowd is really energetic, I can do well," said Bolt, who has withdrawn from meets in China and South Korea because of fatigue. "It was my coach's decision, really. ... I was getting a little tired."

The world's best athletes will gather in northern Greece to compete in 36 events. Participants were invited based on a points system from Golden League and IAAF Grand Prix track meets.

The winners in each event will receive $30,000. A world record will be worth an extra $100,000.

American Sanya Richards will run the 200 Saturday before competing in the 400, which she won at worlds, a day later.

"This year has been awesome for me," Richards said. "For the first time in my career, I won the world title."

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