(Reuters) – Olympic champion Usain Bolt responded to last week’s surprise sprint defeat in Rome by storming to a world-leading time of 19.79 seconds over 200 meters at the Bislett Diamond League meeting on Thursday.
The Jamaican world record holder, surprisingly beaten over 100 meters by American Justin Gatlin in Italy, streaked away from the field to win comfortably on a chilly night in his first competitive race over the distance this season.
“I need to work on my curve, as my coach has said, but overall it was a good race,” said the 26-year-old who is the first man to break the 20 seconds mark this year.
“Under better, warmer conditions… (I could do) a 19.50 race, easily,” he told a news conference.
Bolt said his confidence was high ahead of the Jamaican trials, starting on June 20, where he needs to be in the top three in the 100 to qualify for the world championships after the country’s automatic entry went to titleholder Yohan Blake.
Ever the showman, Bolt appeared to have put the loss to Gatlin out of his mind as he rubbed his arms and pretended to shiver while standing at the blocks before the start.
But once down to business, the six-times Olympic gold medalist showed he had recovered from the hamstring injury that dogged him earlier this season with a meeting record, having said earlier in the week he was in shape to go below 20 seconds.
Home favorite Jaysuma Saidy Ndure was second in 20.36 in a field lacking any other Jamaican or American athletes. European champion Churandy Martina of the Netherlands was disqualified from the event for a false start.
“I thought I could take him,” said Norwegian Saidy Ndure. “All the way to 150 I thought I could catch him… But then he accelerated.”
Olympic champion Meseret Defar shook off Kenya’s Viola Jelagat Kibiwot and fellow Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba over the last 200 meters to win a fast women’s 5,000 in a world leading 14:26.90 – the fastest time since 2011.
“I felt very comfortable throughout the race. I knew I had the shape. I think I’m in world record shape, but was not confident to try it,” the 29-year old said.
Kenya’s 18-year old Conseslus Kipruto followed up on his Diamond League victories in Shanghai and Eugene by again beating London Olympic gold medalist Ezekiel Kemboi in the 3,000 meters steeplechase in 8:04.48.
The Bislett “Dream Mile” was won by Djibouti’s Ayanleh Souleiman with a time of 3:50.53.
Russian Olympic and world high jump champion Anna Chicherova suffered her first defeat of the season when she finished third with 1.95 meters behind compatriot Svetlana Shkolina who cleared 1.97 on her third attempt.
The event had been billed as a match-up between Chicherova and former world champion Blanka Vlasic, who missed last season after Achilles surgery, but the Croatian was a disappointing fifth after failing to clear 1.90.