- The Washington Times - Friday, August 21, 2009

BERLIN | Usain Bolt startled the world again.

The Jamaican sprinting great captured the 200-meter gold medal in 19.19 seconds Thursday with yet another world record. Gritting his teeth and pointing to the clock as soon as the time flashed, Bolt is now 5-for-5 in major sprint events. He has won a gold medal each time with a world mark.

His time in the 200 at these world championships slashed 0.11 seconds off the record he set last year, four days after breaking his 100 mark by the same margin.

Alonso Edward of Panama was second, a distant 0.62 seconds behind Bolt. Wallace Spearmon of the United States took bronze.

“Just coming out there, I’m just waiting for the lights to flash ‘game over,’ cause I felt like I was in a video game,” said Shawn Crawford, who finished fourth. “That guy was moving fast.”

Bolt’s spirits got a boost before the start when teammate Melaine Walker added the world title to her Olympic gold in the women’s 400 hurdles, another success for the Caribbean island with outsized performances at the championships.

After defending champion Tyson Gay had withdrawn because of injury, Bolt’s main competitor stood beyond the finishing line a huge track clock painted in the same colors as his Jamaican jersey.

With a new take on President Kennedy’s famous Cold War quote “Ich bin ein Berliner,” Bolt pleased the locals with a training jersey saying “Ich bin ein Berlino,” referring to the bear mascot of the championships.

His running was even better than his show. From Lane 5, he gobbled up all the opposition by the end of the curve, and then let those huge arms and legs loose in a whirl of unmatched speed.

Once across the line, he stuck out his tongue much in the manner of basketball great Michael Jordan. And in track, he now has the same exalted stature.

Bolt took off his orange shoes, which had taken him though through eight races in six days, and he started celebrating on the eve of his 23rd birthday.

It was the first sultry evening in Berlin, with temperatures exceeding 90 degrees, reminiscent of that same day, exactly one year ago, in Beijing.

During warmups, Bolt faked knocking out Spearmon, with the American happily playing along as he also was sucked up by the Bolt aura. Afterward, Spearmon could do nothing but applaud greatness.

Ahead of Bolt’s magic, Yusuf Saad Kamel of Bahrain and Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia started their chase for their own doubles. After winning the 10,000 on Monday, Bekele was dominant again and crossed first in his heat of the 5,000.

The Ethiopian great won a long-distance double at the Beijing Olympics and adding two more golds in Berlin would establish him as perhaps the greatest distance runner Africa has had.

Running on two hours sleep, Kamel followed up victory in the 1,500 late Wednesday with a win and easy qualification for the semifinals in the 800.

“I did not sleep last night because I was very excited,” said the Kenyan-born Bahraini, the son of two-time 800 world champion Billy Konchellah.

Favorites Yuriy Borzakovskiy of Russia and Abubakere Kaki of Sudan qualified alongside him.

Olympic hurdles champion Dayron Robles had a bad day, however.

The world-record holder had been slowed by a hamstring injury the past few weeks and after hitting the first three hurdles in his semifinal, he cried out in agony, grabbed his leg and slowed to a stop.

Robles had to be helped off the track, unable to lean to take any pressure on his left leg. It left the final late Thursday wide open. In the men’s pole vault, another Olympic champion was in trouble. Steve Hooker made it to Saturday’s final on a bad leg with his only jump of 18 feet, 6 inches, but was unsure whether he could continue.

“I am not sure about my appearance in the final,” Hooker said. “It is just that I am not healthy.”

Defending champion Brad Walker of the United States pulled out of the event before qualifying with a pelvic injury.

Thursday also has finals in the decathlon and the women’s 400 hurdles and high jump.

A day after winning her first 800 world title amid a gender-test controversy, teenager Caster Semenya was unruffled by the dispute when she accepted gold on the medal podium, grinning and singing along with the South African anthem.

Semenya dominated her rivals despite revelations that she was undergoing a verification test because of concerns she does not meet the requirements to compete as a woman.

“She said to me she doesn’t see what the big deal is all about,” South Africa team manager Phiwe Mlangeni-Tsholetsane said. “She believes it is God given talent and she will exercise it.”

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