OSLO — Piqued by suggestions of a possible decline, Usain Bolt responded with a blistering season debut at 200 meters and a track record at the Bislett Games.
"I'm not in as bad shape as I thought I was," Bolt said Thursday after his emphatic victory.
Bolt, whose conditioning was questioned after losing the 100 by 0.01 seconds in Rome last week, finished in 19.79. He is the only one to break 20 seconds this season.
"Overall it was a good run, I can't complain. It's sub 20," said the Jamaican, who holds the world record at 19.19. "I could have done better. I think I need to work on my corners but otherwise it was a good race."
Bolt topped the Bislett record set by Frank Fredericks of Namibia in 1996 by 0.03 seconds.
"At the end of the day it's not about time," Bolt said. "It's about winning. Because if I run 20 flat at the world championships and I win, I'll be happy."
After losing to American Justin Gatlin in Rome, Bolt wasn't fazed by a false start by European 200 champion Churandy Martina of the Netherlands. Martina was disqualified and Bolt powered on, finishing strongly in the sixth lane and leaving the fans on their feet.
"It's always good to have someone directly in front of you," said Bolt about Martina, who was in the seventh lane. "It helps to push you harder to get past them on the corner. But you have to learn. This is always good, a learning curve. If it happens in the world championships, then it's already happened here so you know how to deal with it."
Bolt was disqualified for a false start at the 2011 world championships in South Korea.
"I know how it feels, it's not a good feeling," he said.
"Now back to Jamaica to prepare for the worlds (in August). My goals remain the same, to be the best in the world and to win three gold medals in Moscow."
Earlier, Olympic champion Meseret Defar of Ethiopia delighted the crowd by running the women's 5,000 in a world-leading 14:26.90 – 15.75 seconds off rival Tirunesh Dibaba's world record.
"I felt very comfortable throughout the race. I knew I have the shape. I think I'm in world record shape, but wasn't confident to try it," Defar said.
Russia's Yelena Sokolova caused a brief moment of panic in the race when she inadvertently walked back in the runners' path after her long jump. She had to jump again, to get out of their way, much to the amusement of the crowd at the 15,400 Bislett Stadium.
There was a surprise in the high jump, where Russia's Olympic bronze medalist Svetlana Shkolina cleared 6 feet, 5 1/2 inches. Olympic and world champion Anna Chicherova was third.
Tiffany Porter of Britain won the women's 100 hurdles in 12.76, and the Czech Republic's Zuzana Hejnova took the 400 hurdles in a season-best 53.60.
Ekaterina Poistogova of Russia won the women's 800, and Ivet Lalova of Bulgaria edged Murielle Ahoure of Ivory Coast by 0.01 seconds to win the 100 in 11.04.
Nineteen-year-old Conseslus Kipruto led a Kenyan sweep of the top six places in the men's 3,000 steeplechase, winning in 8:04.48. Yousef Ahmed Masrahi of Saudi Arabia took the men's 400 in 45.33, and Djibouti's Ayanleh Souleiman won the mile in 3:50.53.