Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Event Report - Men's 200m - Semi-Final

(L-R) David Alerte of France and Usain Bolt of Jamaica both achieve automatic qualification places for the men's 200m final in the Berlin Olympic Stadium  (Getty Images)

(L-R) David Alerte of France and Usain Bolt of Jamaica both achieve automatic qualification places for the men's 200m final in the Berlin Olympic Stadium (Getty Images)

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    • (L-R) Great Britain's Marlon Devonish, USA's Wallace Spearmon and Azerbaijan's Ramil Guliyev in the second of the men's 200m semi-finals in Berlin
    • Steve Mullings of Jamaica competes in the men's 200m semi-final at the 12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics

    Another round, another ridiculously easy qualification from Usain Bolt as the World record-holder cruised into tomorrow's 200m final.

    Bolt, making his seventh competitive appearance of the championships in the Berlin Olympic Stadium, ran a good bend to enter the home straight in the lead with former Olympic champion Shawn Crawford of the USA not too far behind. The 19.30 man then strode out down the home-straight as Panama's Alonso Edward began to ease past Crawford.

    Bolt stopped the clock in 20.08 while Edward, looking every bit a potential medallist, finished second with 20.22. Crawford was third in 20.35 and David Alerte of France secured the fourth qualifying spot with a time of 20.45. The last time a Frenchman made an IAAF World Championships 200m final was in 1993 - the last time the event was held in Germany.

    Robert Hering of Germany drew a louder cheer than Bolt before the race, but he finished fifth in 20.52. It was also the end of the road for Rondell Sorrillo of Trinidad (20.63), Rolando Palacios of Honduras (20.67) and Brendan Christian of Antigua & Barbuda (20.79).

    Heat two was more competitive at the top-end. Steve Mullings committed a false start, but at the second time of asking the Jamaican did not hold back and he shot off around the bend. But two-time World medallist Wallace Spearmon did not panic and edged into the lead down the home straight. Looking pretty much as good as he has done all year, Spearmon clocked 20.14 ahead of Mullings' 20.26.

    Meanwhile US youngster Charles Clark once again scraped through, just as he had done in previous rounds, but this time he at least put together a decent race to finish third in 20.27, a season's best. Azerbaijan's Ramil Guliyev, the second fastest junior of all-time, also made it through with a time of 20.28, his second-best clocking to date.

    Martial Mbandjock was rather unlucky to finish fifth with 20.43 - a time that would have been good enough for the top-four in the first semi. But on the plus side, it was a PB for the Frenchman.

    Paul Hession of Ireland was sixth (20.48) with Britain's Marlon Devonish seventh (20.62) and Emmanuel Callander of Trinidad & Tobago eighth (20.70).

    So in the absence of defending champion Tyson Gay, the USA will have three men in the final. One is a former Olympic champion, one has won medals in both of the past two World finals, and the other is a precocious youngster. But can they mount any kind of challenge to overwhelming favourite Usain Bolt? Or could the likes of the Mullings and Edward keep the Americans off the podium altogether?

    All will be revealed in tomorrow's final.

    Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF