Bolt strolls through 200m; Friedrich and Vlasic set for duel

August 18th, 2009 - 9:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Berlin, Aug 18 (DPA) Usain Bolt shook off some early-morning cobwebs as he strolled into the second of the 200 metres at the world championships Tuesday.
The Jamaican superstar won his heat in 20.70 seconds and disappeared swiftly afterwards, mumbling only “it is alright” as he set his sight on the second round set for the evening.

American Shawn Crawford led the pack with 20.60 seconds but not even the 2004 Olympic champion and 2008 silver medallist is considered a serious threat for Bolt.

Bolt won Olympic gold in a world record 19.30 seconds last year and Sunday started his Berlin title collection with an awesome 100m world record run in 9.58 seconds.

Bolt, who turns 23 the day after Thursday’s 200m final, should be unrivalled as defending champion Tyson Gay of the US withdrew due to a groin injury after getting 100m silver. Gay leads the 200 list with 19.58 seconds to Bolt’s 19.59.

United States stars LaShawn Merritt and Jeremy Wariner were untroubled in the 400m heats and home gold medal hope Ariane Friedrich made the women’s high jump final along with Croatian holder Blaka Vlasic.

World and Olympic champion Gerd Kanter of Estonia qualified for the discus final and the women’s 1,500m favourites also advanced from their heats.

The Olympic champion Merritt won his 400m heat in 45.23 seconds and so did the two-time defending champion Wariner in 45.54. Wariner hopes to rebound in Berlin from his Olympic meltdown on the home stretch.

“It was a great first round … My body is feeling good,” said Merritt.

Ramon Miller of the Bahamas topped the list into Wednesday’s semi-finals with a personal best 45.00 and Irish sensation David Gillick - number four on the 2009 list with 44.77 seconds - also

dominated his heat in 45.54 seconds.

In the women’s high jump, Friedrich took just one jump, over the required 1.95m, to make Thursday’s decider. Vlasic played it safe, clearing three earlier heights before also going over 1.95m on her first attempt.

Friedrich was as minimalistic in her comment as in her jumping on the day, not even bothering to stop walking as she said that “I am in a good form and I will hopefully win Thursday.”

Vlasic won worlds gold in 2007, but lost to now retired Belgian Tia Hellebaud at the Olympics, and to Friedrich in the Olympic Stadium at the Golden League meet in June. Friedrich soared a

national record and 2009 world leading 2.06m on that day.

Title holder Maryam Yusuf Jamal of Bahrain made the 1,500m semis in 4:08.76 and so did Olympic champion Nancy Jebet Langat of Kenya (4:08.16) and the most dangerous Russian Anna Alminova (4:08.13).

Kanter handily qualified for Wednesday’s discus medal round final with 66.73m. German rival Robert Harting even had 66.81m while two-time world and Olympic champion Virgilijus Alekna of Lithuania qualified with 65.04m.

The five evening finals are the men’s 400m hurdles, 3,000m steeplechase and triple jump, and the women’s 400m and javelin.

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