All three Jamaican men from the Racers Track Club, including Yohan Blake, the second fastest man ever behind Bolt after running 19.26 seconds last year, and newcomer to the international scene, Warren Weir, advanced to today’s semi-finals after easily winning their first-round heats under cold and overcast conditions yesterday morning.
Weir ran 20.29 seconds, the second best overall, behind Alex Quinones’ Venezuelan national record of 20.28 seconds; Blake clocked 20.38 seconds, just a shade faster than Bolt’s 20.39 seconds, as all three earned prime inside lanes for today’s races.
Blake will contest the first semi-finals set for 8:10 pm here (2:10 pm Jamaica time) where he will face two-time World Championships medallist Wallace Spearmon of the United States and French and European champion Christophe LeMaitre.
Bolt runs in the second semi-final, while Weir will contest the third along with 100m finalist Churandy Martina of Holland and Great Britain’s best hope Christian Malcolm.
Yesterday Bolt said he was “happy” with his performance. “It was all about going out there and qualifying, taking it as easy as possible so it was good work.”
The Olympic champion from Beijing said he was looking for some improvements in today’s race. “I just have to push myself a little harder and run the corner more technically so I can work on a few more things, it’s my favourite event, so I am really looking forward to it.”
His fitness issues from the JAAA/Supreme Ventures National Trials in June are well behind him as evidenced in his brilliant 9.63 seconds win in the 100m in a new Olympic record on Sunday night and he said the work he has done in the past three weeks have served him well.
Additionally his fondness for the event, plus the background work are bearing fruits. “I am used to the corner and it came back pretty easily, so I’m looking forward to the next round to test myself on the corner and take it home.”
Interestingly he said the first round of the 200m always seem to tax him more than the others. “For some reason I am always tired after the first round, so after a good night’s rest and an ice bath I will be all right.”
Blake, who is seeking his first 200m medal at this level, said he followed coach Glen Mills’ instructions to run “a controlled race, take it easy and qualify for the second round”.
The national double sprint champion, who is the world leader with 19.80 seconds, revealed that he had been working on his curve run, the weakest part of his race, as he said he would need to run a good curve to go up against someone like Usain. “It will take a really hard curve.”
Weir, a converted 110m hurdler in high school, looked comfortable in his heat, almost to the point of disinterest, as he executed all phases and said he “felt pretty good” knowing that he came through the first round pretty comfortable under no pressure.
He was hesitant to predict any medals, however, saying he would take it round by round.