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Track And Field
LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP:
Bolt, Blake unstoppable
Usain Bolt was fast and impressive at the Athletissima Diamond League meeting yesterday. Yohan Blake was fast and maybe even more impressive.
Bolt, the Olympic champion and world record holder over 100 and 200 metres, timed 19.58 seconds in the fastest 200m ever run at the speedy Lausanne track.
Yet he was almost overshadowed by Blake, his Jamaican friend and rival who 20 minutes earlier closed the gap between them in the all-time 100 rankings.
Blake, a two-time Olympic silver medallist behind Bolt, clocked 9.69 to become the joint second-fastest man in history.
"9.69 is a wonderful result," said Bolt, who ran that time when setting a then-world record at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. "I knew he was going to push real hard tonight."
Blake, fighting off a post-London Games cold, overcame a slight headwind to shave 0.06 hundredths of a second off his previous best. He ran 9.75 to beat Bolt in the Jamaican Olympic trials in June and the same time again when Bolt finished in 9.63 to defend his Olympic title earlier this month.
"I knew I was fast and my coach told me I could run faster," said Blake, who shares coach Glen Mills with Bolt. "Today I could finally prove it."
Blake made a fast start and an impressive driving finish to equal the 9.69 run by Tyson Gay of the United States in 2009. Gay trailed in Blake's wake yesterday, placing second in 9.83. Jamaica's Nesta Carter was third in 9.95.
"I have been working for that. Now it all comes together," Blake said. "My performance proves it."
Still, Bolt's world record of 9.58 to win gold at the 2009 World Championships is at a different level, and his fooling on the start line yesterday suggests he is at ease with Blake's challenge.
After playing air guitar for the television cameras, Blake used the 1.4 metres per second of wind assistance to set an Athletissima record, 0.26 behind his gold medal-winning time in London.
"This season has not always been great but I'm thrilled with the way it is finishing," Bolt said. Churandy Martina of the Netherlands was second in 19.85 while Jamaicans took the next three spots - Nickel Ashmeade (19.94), Jason Young (20.00) and Warren Weir (20.03).
However, the season is unlikely to climax with another Bolt versus Blake match. They are set to avoid each other in the final two Diamond League meets, at Zurich next Thursday and Brussels a week later.
JETER GETS NOD
In the women's 100m, Carmelita Jeter reversed the London placings with Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica in a photo finish with both timing 10.86 seconds. The American silver medallist never led until attacking hard at the line, as Fraser-Pryce lost her lead by failing to make the dip she needed for victory. Trinidad and Tobago's Kelly-An Baptiste was third in 10.93 with Veronica Campbell-Brown fourth in 10.99 and Kerron Stewart fifth in 11.10.
"Basically, it was an Olympic final," Jeter said. "It was an epic moment, but I thought I got to bring this home."
Dawn Harper earned another United States victory in the 100m hurdles, and Olympic champion Kirani James of Grenada confirmed his superiority in the men's 400m, clocking 44.37 in a comfortable victory, beating Dominican Republic's Luguelin Santos, 45.03. Jamaica's Rusheen McDonald was fourth in 45.34.
Jamaica's Kaliese Spencer returned to top form with a season best 53.49 seconds to win the women's 400 hurdles from compatriot Melaine Walker, 53.74. Olympic champion Natalya Antyukh was seventh in 55.82.
One Olympic gold medallist who never got to race was 110m hurdles champion Aries Merritt, who was disqualified for a false start. That left another American, Olympic silver medallist Jason Richardson, to step up for the victory in 13.09. Another American, David Oliver, was second in 13.14 while Jamaica's Hansle Parchment took third in 13.15.