Usain Bolt continues to chase history just as his competitors continue to chase him. Based on the early returns at the London Olympics, Bolt's chase seems at least as likely to succeed.
Returning to the track two days after establishing a new Olympic record in the 100 meters, Bolt advanced to the semifinal in the 200 meters, finishing 1st in his Round 1 heat without seeming to exert much effort. Having already joined Carl Lewis as the only man to win consecutive gold medals in the 100, Bolt is looking to become the first ever to pull off the feat in the 200.
The 25-year-old Jamaican track star covered the distance in 20.39 seconds, easily defeating a field composed of eight other runners who had never gotten under 20 seconds in this event. Also initially clinching spots in the semifinal from Bolt's heat were Aldemir da Silva Junior of Brazil (20.53) who finished second and Isiah Young of the United States who crossed the line third (20.55). Bolt holds the world record (19.19 set in Berlin 2009) and the Olympic record (19.30 in Beijing 2008) in the 200 meters. After capturing gold in the 100 on Sunday night, Bolt let everyone know -- including countryman and competitor Yohan Blake -- that he is confident he would soon also be holding a gold medal in this event.
"I've told Yohan Blake that 200 meters will be different, because that's my signature event," Bolt told reporters. "I'm not going to let him beat me again. I've said that to him already."
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Having lost to Blake in the Jamaican Olympic Trials in both the 100 and 200, Bolt arrived in London with rumors swirling about his conditioning, health and dedication. Thus far, he has looked fully capable of defending the three gold medals he won in Beijing.
Running in the fourth heat, Blake also placed first in dominant fashion, posting a time of 20.38. After the seven preliminary heats were complete and the 24 competitors (three top finishers from each heat and the three fastest losers) were through, the fastest time of the day belonged to Alex Quinonez of Ecuador, who ran a 20.29.
"I'm feeling good. I've trained for this. That's why they call me 'The Beast,'" Blake told reporters after the conclusion of the preliminary heats. "The track is fast. Usain is really fast, but I'm in great shape. Anything is possible."
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