MOSCOW — Running on a taped and tender right foot,
With only two assured qualification spots from his heat, the 100-meter champion switched into a higher gear at the end of Friday's race when Anaso Jobodwana unexpectedly appeared on his left shoulder.
Bolt momentarily gritted his teeth but soon turned them into a grin as he held off the South African and took first place in his semifinal heat in 20.12 seconds. He never showed any unease about his right foot.
“At the last minute when I started slowing down, I heard South Africa on my inside,” Bolt said. “I didn't want to lose the race so I picked up the speed again.”
Curtis Mitchell was the top qualifier in 19.97, but saw all his American teammates eliminated from the final.
Bolt was joined in the final by Jamaican teammates Nickel Ashmeade and Warren Weir. Bolt had been troubled by a sore foot since he regained his 100 title Sunday. He said he dropped a starting block on his foot in training.
“It was just a mistake,” he said. “I was in training, and I was moving it and dropped it on my foot.”
If Bolt wins, he goes into the 4x100 relay seeking to win three golds at the worlds for the second time, matching his feat from the last two Olympics.
Another Jamaican will try to get one step ahead of Bolt. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce already has the 100 title and will now go against Olympic champion
Felix is also seeking three golds. If she wins the 200 and adds the 4x100 and 4x400 relays, it would equal the three golds she won at the London Olympics.
And after three silver medals Thursday, the United States is ready to get in that golden mood again, and with the men's long jump, 4x400 relay and shot put scheduled, the opportunity is certainly there.
At the longer distances,
Friday's other final, the women's hammer throw, was won by Olympic champion Tatyana Lysenko of Russia. She set a world championship record of 258 feet, 6 inches to retain her title.
In the 100 hurdles, Olympic and defending champion Sally Pearson shook off the injury worries that slowed her this season and set a season's best time of 12.62 seconds in her heat. That was still 0.07 seconds behind leading qualifier Brianna Rollins of the U.S.
Off the track, pole vault great Yelena Isinbayeva backed off from her comments criticizing homosexuality. The Russian said she “may have been misunderstood” when she condemned homosexuality and criticized Swedish high jumper Emma Green Tregaro for painting her fingernails in the rainbow colors to express support for gays and lesbians.
“English is not my first language,” Isinbayeva said. “Let me state in the strongest terms that I am opposed to any discrimination against gay people.”