Usain Bolt enjoys Swiss stroll
Usain Bolt was as good as his word. Two weeks on from the completion of his back to back Olympic sprint double in London, the Jamaican sprinter arrived in Lausanne saying his priority was "to put on a good show" rather than chase any records.
The Lightning Bolt did just that in the Athletissima Diamond League meeting on the shores of Lake Geneva last night, adding a spot of air guitar to his pre-race routine. The crowd in the Pontaise Stadium loved it, then settled down to watch the No 1 attraction in track and field produce what was – by his galactic standards – a Swiss stroll of a run.
There was never any likelihood of Bolt threatening his 200m world record of 19.19sec in his first race since the Olympic Games, which he finished with a third gold medal (making it six from two Games) after Jamaica's world record flourish in the 4x100m relay. Thus it proved.
Two days on from his 26th birthday, Bolt had the race effectively in the bag as he entered the home straight and he proceeded to make 19.58sec look like a relative jog. Churandy Martina of the Netherlands was the runner-up in 19.85sec, with Bolt's compatriot Nickel Ashmeade third in 19.94.
It was a record run, shaving 0.01sec from Bolt's three-year-old meeting best. "It's all right," he said afterwards. "It's nearly the end of the season, so I'm just having a little fun."
It is a shame that end-of-season fun is unlikely to include another locking of horns with the training partner he calls The Beast. Second best in the 100m and 200m finals in London, Yohan Blake was the more impressive of the two last night, laying down the gauntlet in the 100m some 20 minutes before Bolt took to the track.
The 22-year-old was beaten out of the blocks by Tyson Gay but was quickly into his stride, into the lead and chasing the clock. By the finish line Blake was comfortably clear.
He was also inside his lifetime best, having equalled that in finishing second to Bolt in the Olympic final, 9.75sec. Last night he improved to 9.69sec, moving to joint second place with Gay on the world all-time list.
Only Bolt has gone quicker – with the 9.58sec he clocked at the World Championships in Berlin in 2009 and the 9.63sec he recorded in London to retain his Olympic title. It broke Bolt's 2010 meeting record of 9.82sec. Gay finished just 0.01sec outside that, the runner-up in 9.83sec
"I'm delighted," Blake said. "I've been fighting the flu. I've been sick all week."
Bolt said of his training partner: "I knew Yohan was going to run fast. I predicted 9.72sec and he went a little bit faster."
Bolt and Blake will be competing in two of the three remaining Diamond League meetings before hanging up their spikes for the season. They are due to race in Zurich on 29 August and in Brussels on 7 September – but, as last night, at separate distances on each occasion.
"I'd love to run against him but you have to talk big money," Blake said when asked about the prospect of an end-of-season head to head. "I'll leave it to my manager to decide. Usain is my training mate and I love to race with and against him. My priorities are to always better myself and to defend my medals, more than about beating Usain Bolt."
Much has been made of their absence from the Aviva Birmingham Grand Prix Diamond League meeting on Sunday, Blake's manager Cubie Seegobin accusing UK Athletics of tabling an "insulting" offer of £25,000 for the world 100m champion to compete. The Olympics apart, Bolt has not competed in Britain for three years because of tax laws that would affect his entire global income and that were waived for the duration of the Games.
The most notable absentee, however, will be Jessica Ennis – or "Ennis the Menace", as the Olympic heptathlon champion has been immortalised in the latest edition of The Beano. Britain's other two 2012 Olympic track and field champions, Mo Farah and Greg Rutherford, will both be in action in a meeting that has attracted a 12,800 sell-out crowd.