Moscow: Usain Bolt completed yet another crushing sprint double on Saturday and hardly needed to extend himself to achieve it as he took his third successive world 200 metres title in the year’s fastest time of 19.66 seconds. And he dared to ease down at the end.
Fellow Jamaican Warren Weir improved on his Olympic bronze by taking silver in a personal best 19.79, while Curtis Mitchell won bronze for the US in 20.04, just preventing another Jamaican podium sweep as he beat Nickel Ashmeade by a hundredth of a second.
Bolt, the world record holder with his 19.19 from Berlin four years ago, won the 100 metres last weekend having completed the sprint double twice at the Olympics and also in the 2009 world championships.
“When I entered the straight, I felt tired, my legs felt a little heavy.
“And my coach told me not to push too hard if it was possible, so I backed off a little,” Bolt said.
“The 200m is my favourite event so this victory is very important for me. The atmosphere at the stadium was wonderful tonight.
“My goal is to defend (for a second time) my titles at the next Olympics as it hasn’t been done before by anyone. And this World Championships is a stepping stone towards that goal.”
He was always in command, running in Lane 4, on Saturday and halfway round the opening bend he loomed over diminutive British teenager Adam Gemili in Lane 5 like an ocean liner towering over a dinghy, before disappearing into the distance.
After a slow start to the season when he was hampered by injury, Bolt has been on an upward curve in the last few weeks and his 19.73 in Paris six weeks ago was the fastest time of the year before Saturday’s race.
American Tyson Gay, who ran 19.74 in June and was the last man to beat Bolt in a global 200 when he won the 2007 World Championships, was unable to challenge him again in Moscow having failed a dope test.
After winning the 100m gold, Bolt will hope to complete another hat-trick in the 4x100m relay on Sunday, when gold would draw him level with American trio Allyson Felix, Carl Lewis and Michael Johnson with eight world titles.
Shelly-Anne Fraser-Pryce won the women’s 100m/200m double in Moscow, cementing Jamaica’s dominant position as the sport’s sprint superpower.
“What an experience this whole championships has been for me,” said Gemili, who has made exceptional progress since taking up the sport a year and a half ago.
“There are no words to describe how I’m feeling. I knew I would be in the mix if I executed my race.
“I didn’t execute it as well as I could have, but I still have a lot of people to thank. I’m very lucky and I’m really happy."
As the finishing line neared, the six-time Olympic champion eased off and had time to look over his shoulder to check whether his teammate Weir had grabbed second spot.
Bolt's winning time was fourth hundredths of a second off his personal best and the slowest of his gold-medal wins over the distance.
But with Tyson Gay absent through suspension and his compatriot Johan Blake injured, Bolt did not have to produce a vintage display to secure the result the vociferous sell-out crowd in the Luzhniki Stadium expected.
By the time the world record holder celebrates his 27th birthday on Wednesday, he could see his name alongside Americans Carl Lewis and Allyson Felix as the most decorated athletes in the championships’ history.
The speed of Bolt’s progress to the top of that list of high achievers depends on Sunday’s 4x100m sprint relay final.
Should the Jamaicans repeat their gold medal-winning exploits of London 2012, the man from Kingston will on Sunday evening be the owner of eight gold and two silver World Championship medals, equalling Lewis and Felix's record of 10.