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I am ready to be golden boy in Rio, vows lightning Bolt

By Guy Aspin

Published 23/07/2016

Simply the best: the great Usain Bolt with his trademark celebration after powering to victory in the 200m at the London Anniversary Games at the Olympic Stadium last night
Simply the best: the great Usain Bolt with his trademark celebration after powering to victory in the 200m at the London Anniversary Games at the Olympic Stadium last night

Usain Bolt proved his fitness for the Rio Olympics in emphatic fashion by clocking 19.89 seconds to win the 200m at the Muller Anniversary Games at London's Olympic Stadium.

The six-time Olympic champion, making his first appearance since pulling out of the Jamaican trials with a hamstring strain, led coming off the bend but had to work harder than usual down the home straight to come home in first place last night.

"I thought it wasn't perfect," said Bolt.

"I came off the corner, just tried to hold my form and do the work.

"I'm happy with the execution and hopefully my coach is.

"I'm definitely feeling good. I'm glad I could come here, run, finish the race, no injuries. I'm happy about that and I'm going to Rio to defend my titles."

Briton Adam Gemili, one of those closing on a grimacing Bolt as the line approached, clocked a season's best 20.07 to finish third.

Bolt, back at the Olympic Stadium where he won three golds at London 2012 and in his final race before Rio, was introduced to the crowd ahead of the event while being paraded around the newly-laid track standing in the back of a Nissan pick-up truck, an under-stated entry by his standards.

He was greeted with the customary roar of approval when introduced to the crowd and responded with his famous 'Lighting Bolt' signature pose.

A false start added to the tension, American Sean McLean the man disqualified, while they were then told to stand up after taking to their blocks for a second time.

Fans are accustomed to seeing Bolt fly clear of the field in the home straight in his favoured event but there was no sign of that, suggesting there is still some way to go before he can live up to his extravagant pre-event boast that he could challenge his 200m world record of 19.19, set back in 2009, in Rio.

He declared on the eve of the race that he was fully fit following treatment from his German doctor Hans-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt, but this was still a crucial fitness test for him ahead of the Games and his bid for an historic 'triple triple' of 100m, 200m and sprint relay crowns. And it was one he passed and more.

Bolt is ranked joint fourth in the world over 100m this year with 9.88, with two-time drug cheat Justin Gatlin leading the way with 9.80. Another American who has served a ban, LaShawn Merritt, tops the 200m rankings with 19.74, with Gatlin just one hundreth of a second behind.

Bolt, though, is used to defying doubters and delivering when it matters.

He did it last year when he went into the World Championships in Beijing trailing Gatlin in the rankings in both events and under pressure to spare his sport the negative headlines a Gatlin victory would inevitably have brought.

He returned from China with three more gold medals, taking his tally of global titles to 17.

Few would bet against him doing so again in Rio.

The best British performance of the night came from Laura Muir, who broke Kelly Holmes' national 1500m record with a hugely impressive run.

The Scot powered well clear of the field to come home in 3:57.49, winning by more than three seconds and eclipsing double Olympic champion Holmes' mark of 3:57.90 from the Athens Olympics in 2004.

The time ranks her second in the world this year, making her a real medal contender in Rio.

The 23-year-old said: "I'm over the moon with that. It's not just any record. It's Kelly Holmes' Olympic gold medal record. It's great to have."

Belfast Telegraph

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