By Steve Keating
KINGSTON, Jamaica, June 30 (Reuters) – Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake sauntered through their 200 meters semi-finals on Saturday to set up another rematch and an explosive finish to the Jamaican Olympic trials.
The men’s 200m on Sunday will provide the grand-finale to the four-day meeting that could prove even more dramatic than their 100m showdown won by Blake, as the two fastest men ever over the distance go head-to-head for a last time before London.
Bolt, the Olympic champion and world record holder at 19.19 seconds, will no doubt want to close out a lackluster meeting on a positive note while Blake, with a best of 19.26, could confirm himself as the man to beat in both events at the Games.
Just 12 hours after Blake had clocked the fastest time of the year to claim a shock win over the world record holder in the 100m, the training partners were back in their starting blocks and sleepwalking through preliminary heats in an empty stadium.
However, both men showed considerably more zip in the evening semi-finals, Blake powering his way across the line in a time of 19.93 to easily win his heat while Bolt also looked more focused, crossing first in 20.26.
Blake was in no mood to discuss his effort but Bolt, who has spent much of the trials desperately avoiding the media was more relaxed and even eager to talk about his run.
“It’s all about qualifying,” Bolt told reporters. “It was a good overall race.
“I felt good on the corner. I haven’t run a corner in a while so it felt good. I’m feeling all right, I’m feeling a little bit better.”
It has been a trying week for the world’s fastest man, who has struggled out of the blocks and involved in two heats that were disrupted by false starts, including Saturday’s 200m semi, which he shrugged off.
“The 200 is much more easy (for starts),” Bolt added. “I don’t see anybody, so it’s much easier.
“I didn’t want to get lane three in the final so I paced myself, I’m happy and I’m glad that Blake and (Warren) Weir ran faster than me so, I think they will get the lower lanes.”
The women’s 200m will also feature a juicy rematch between Olympic champion Veronica Campbell-Brown and 100m Olympic gold medalist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.
Campbell-Brown took her first step towards a record third consecutive Olympic title by winning her heat in 22.79 but Fraser-Pryce, winner of Friday’s 100m in a Jamaican record 10.70, continued to set a sizzling pace with the top qualifying time of 22.55.
“I’m feeling pretty good, the objective was to come out here tonight and advance to the finals and I’m happy to have achieved that,” Campbell-Brown said. “So it’s time to get some sleep, some food and get ready for the finals tomorrow.
“We have a really good field and I think we’ll get some decent times out there but that is not my priority.”
Hansle Parchment closed out the evening session by booking his Olympic spot in the 110m hurdles with a winning time of 13.18, edging Andrew Riley, the first man to win NCAA titles in the 100m flat and 110m hurdles in the same year, with 13.19.