Christophe Lemaitre ran the fastest time in the semi-finals of the 200 metres on Friday night, 20.17 seconds into a 1.0 metre per second headwind.
He also defeated one of the only two men to have run under 20 seconds this year, Nickel Ashmeade of Jamaica, by a metre-and-a-half, which you would reckon was a pretty good guide to his medal chances.
Few in the stadium wanted to know about that, however, as a certain Usain Bolt won the second of three semi-finals minutes later in 20.31. Both before and (especially) after he ran, the reception accorded the Jamaican star in Daegu stadium befitted a rock superstar.
Bolt did drag the next three through on his coat-tails into Saturday night’s final. Jaysuma Saidy Ndure got the other automatic place on offer, finishing second in 20.50, but both Bruno De Barros (20.54) and Rondell Sorillo (20.56) advanced as the fastest of the non-automatic qualifiers.
The World record holder and defending champion again looked supremely relaxed. Starting in lane six – one inside the lane seven he drew in the morning heat – he had the lead within the first half of the bend and pulled away in the first half of the straight before cruising to the line. Clearly, there is more to come in the final, but with a best of 19.86 this year compared to his world record 19.19, there may need to be.
Walter Dix of USA, the silver medallist in the 100 metres from which Bolt was sensationally disqualified, took the third of the semi-finals in 20.38.
Alonso Edward of Panama, silver medallist in Berlin two years ago, was second in 20.52 with Mario Forsythe of Jamaica third, but not fast enough to push his way into the final.
So it will be Lemaitre who carries the top seeding into the final, which would normally make him the focus of attention. But not, you suspect, Saturday night in Daegu.
Len Johnson for the IAAF