Never write me off, warns Bolt

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

BEI­JING — Hard as this is to be­lieve, there were ques­tions about Usain Bolt when the world cham­pi­onships first started.

Was he healthy enough? Was he fit enough? Was he — gasp! — fast enough? Yes, yes, and a re­sound­ing yes. The Ja­maican great left the Bird’s Nest with three more gold medals and ended any sus­pi­cions about his dom­i­nance. He warned that peo­ple write him off at their peril af­ter the im­pe­ri­ous Ja­maican sealed another world tre­ble gold de­spite an in­jury-hit sea­son. Just in time, too, with the Olympic track com­pe­ti­tion in Rio de Janeiro start­ing 49 weeks from now.

All the doubts about Bolt — his fit­ness, and whether Justin Gatlin might be primed to beat him — only pro­vided more fuel.

“This is even bet­ter, just to prove ev­ery­one wrong,” Bolt said of his tre­ble in Bei­jing, where his dom­i­nance of world sprint­ing started when he came to promi­nence in the 2008 Olympics.

The tow­er­ing 29-year-old has sat out six weeks of com­pet­i­tive ac­tion this sea­son with pelvic joint pain, but he roared back de­spite a lack of out­ings on the cir­cuit in the most im­pres­sive way.

“Peo­ple pretty much counted me out this sea­son,” Bolt said. “They said, ‘He’s not go­ing to make it. That’s it for him.’ I came out and proved you can never count Usain Bolt out. I’m a cham­pion, and I’ll show up when it mat­ters.” As if there was ever a doubt. The only thing that tripped him up was a clumsy cam­era­man who ran into him from be­hind on a two-wheel mo­tor­ized ve­hi­cle. He even bounced back from that, an­chor­ing the 4x100 re­lay team to gold af­ter win­ning the 100 and 200 on his own.

One thing that be­came clear as the meet went on is that Bolt doesn’t just beat peo­ple by be­ing faster, he gets in their heads, too.

Gatlin lost the 100 on a last-sec­ond lean that many viewed as a pres­sure-in­duced mis­take. The U.S. re­lay team missed the hand­off — and Bolt said he pretty much ex­pected that.

“We just know the key thing is just to get the ba­ton around. Doesn’t mat­ter,” Bolt said. “Be­cause the U.S. knows we al­ways have the best team, they tend to panic. Pres­sure gets to them some­times.”

Gatlin ap­pears to be the only man with the speed to push Bolt. Beat­ing him is another mat­ter.

“What will it take?” Gatlin said. “It will take stay­ing in front. That’s what it’s go­ing to take.” Good luck with that. Here are some other things we learned from the world cham­pi­onships in Bei­jing:

Give ‘em a hand

Once again, the Amer­i­cans strug­gled get­ting the ba­ton around the track. The men’s 4x100 re­lay was dis­qual­i­fied for step­ping out­side its lane on an ex­change be­tween Tyson Gay and Mike Rodgers. That marked the eighth time since 1995 the Amer­i­can men have ei­ther been dis­qual­i­fied or failed to fin­ish at the worlds or the Olympics. The women’s 4x400 squad wasn’t clean on an ex­change be­tween Allyson Felix and Fran­cena Mccorory, open­ing the door for a Ja­maican win. The U.S. has gone to camps to fix these foibles. Bot­tom line: It may sim­ply be be­tween the ears. Kenya’s good Kenya fin­ished with 16 medals — and not one in the men’s marathon. Javelin thrower Julius Yego won the first gold medal in a field event for a coun­try renowned for dis­tance run­ning. More Mo Just like Bolt, Mo Farah shows no signs of slow­ing down. The Bri­tish run­ner won a third straight long-dis­tance dou­ble in Bei­jing, match­ing his 5,000-10,000 golds from the 2012 Olympics and the 2013 worlds. With the com­pe­ti­tion fail­ing to close the gap yet again, Farah is a good bet for a re­peat in Rio.

The home team

China had plenty to cheer about, with Su Bing­tian break­ing the 10-sec­ond bar­rier in the 100 me­ters, and reach­ing a world fi­nal — both firsts for his coun­try. The 19-year-old Wang Jianan won a bronze in the long jump in another mile­stone achieve­ment in the field events. On Sun­day, Zhang Guowei won a sil­ver medal in the men’s high jump and Lyu Hui­hui matched him in the women’s javelin. As for next year’s host, Brazil, there was only one medal win­ner: Fabiana Murer, who fin­ished sec­ond in the pole vault.

Dop­ing cloud

Al­ways a hot topic around the sport. The Kenyans had two run­ners sus­pended for dop­ing while at the worlds. Rus­sia’s race-walk­ing pro­gram has come un­der in­tense scru­tiny this year af­ter a Ger­man doc­u­men­tary al­leged sys­tem­atic dop­ing. And when Gatlin lost in the 100, he was asked over and over if it was good for track that Bolt beat him. Gatlin served a dop­ing sus­pen­sion be­fore re­turn­ing in 2010.

— AP

Usain Bolt (right) out­paces Justin Gatlin (left) and Tyson Gay to win the men's 100m in Bei­jing.

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