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Thursday, 21 August 2008

Usain Bolt of Jamaica after breaking the world record with a time of 19.30 to win the gold medal in the men's 200-meter final on WednesdaySprinter Sets World Record in 200 Meters

AP, BEIJING — The dramatic ascendance of Usain Bolt as the world's greatest sprinter continued Wednesday night at the Beijing Olympics as he left another group of elite runners far behind in setting a world record in the 200 meters and winning his second gold medal.

Having obliterated the world record in the 100 on Saturday, he is the first man to win the 100 and 200 at the same Olympics since Carl Lewis in 1984.

Starting in Lane 5, Bolt took the lead in the first 50 meters and won in devastating fashion, pulling away from the field and winning by several meters in a time of 19.30. Michael Johnson had held the record of 19.32, set in 1996 at the Atlanta Games.
 
"I'm shocked; I'm still shocked," Bolt said. "I have been aspiring to the world record for so long.
 
"I got out good, I ran the corner as hard as possible and once I entered the straight told myself to keep it up, don't die on me now."
 
Churandy Martina of the Netherlands Antilles won the silver. Wallace Spearmon of the United States finished third, but as he began a victory lap while draped in an American flag, he learned that he had been disqualified for stepping into the lane of his teammate Walter Dix. Shawn Crawford, also of the United States, ended up with the bronze.
 
The United States filed a protest after the race. U.S. officials said they accepted Spearmon's disqualification, but asserted that Martina had also stepped over the line. If Martina were disqualified along with Spearmon, Crawford would receive the silver medal and Dix , who finished fifth in the race, would receive the bronze.
 
With the Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang out of the Games with an injury, leaving the Bird's Nest stadium without the main attraction, Bolt and his fellow Jamaican sprinters have turned the venue into their own showcase. Bolt first stole the show in his Olympic final debut Saturday, delivering the record-setting performance in the 100 — in 9.69 seconds — despite beginning his celebration well before the finish line. The next night, three Jamaican women swept the medals in the 100.
 
Bolt delivered an encore Wednesday, less than two hours before his 22nd birthday. He entered the race owning the three fastest 200 times this season, and in the semifinals on Tuesday he appeared to be holding back yet still finished first, in 20.09.
 
Except for Johnson in 1996, no other runner had ever run faster than 19.62. Bolt's previous best was 19.67.
 
Crawford, the defending 200-meter champion, and Dix, the 100-meter bronze medalist, were expected to be Bolt's main rivals Wednesday.
 
Running is as much a part of childhood in Jamaica as Little League baseball is in the United States. Boys and girls enter national races when they are as young as 5, and by the time they are teenagers, top sprinters are competing before crowds of 30,000 at the National Stadium. Home to 2.8 million people, Jamaica sent 51 track and field athletes to Beijing; 39 are sprinters.
 
Bolt was the youngest male world junior champion in the 200 at age 15, then enjoyed his biggest breakthrough in May, when he broke the world record in the 100 with a time of 9.72 seconds at the Reebok Grand Prix in New York.
 
His 6-foot-5 frame makes him unusual for a sprinter; he is three inches taller than Carl Lewis and two inches taller than Tommie Smith, the sprinters to whom he is most often compared.
 
Though Bolt is the tallest man to hold the record, he is not the first sprinter of his height to succeed in this era. Francis Obikwelu, the Nigerian-born runner who now represents Portugal, is also 6-5 and won the silver medal in the 100 at the 2004 Olympics. But Bolt has now run 0.17 seconds faster than the 30-year-old Obikwelu has ever run with significantly less refined technique.

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