Daegu, Korea – Clouds are not usually something you associate with the head of Usain Bolt. Successive Olympic and World Championships sprint doubles in World records times do tend to make for clear sunny skies.
An injury-curtailed 2010, a relatively low-key 2011 and a disqualification for a false start in the 100 metres in Daegu have all brought the clouds a little closer to his head of late, but it was blue sky, nothing but blue sky when Bolt returned to the track for the heats of the 200 metres on Friday morning.
Running in lane seven, the outside lane in his second heat, Bolt never saw another athlete once the field was called to the blocks. Loping along as much as sprinting, he ran 20.30 seconds to win easing down from Michael Mathieu of Bahamas, 20.46, and Pavel Maslak of the Czech Republic, 20.63.
Bolt will return for the semi-final round on Friday night.
The first three in each of the seven heats advanced automatically to the semi-final round, together with the next three fastest. Major casualty was probably Marvin Anderson of Jamaica, who finished fourth in heat four and did not run fast enough to advance as a non-automatic qualifier.
The first heat brought together the silver and bronze medallists in the 100 metres, Walter Dix and Kim Collins, as well as Asian Games 200 and 400 champion Femi Ogunode.
Not surprisingly, Collins led on the bend, but the 100 bronze medallist held on well to take third place in a season’s best 20.52 behind 100 silver medallist Walter Dix, 20.42, and African champion Amr Ibrahim Mostafa Seoud of Egypt, 20.44.
Jaysuma Saidy Ndure won heat three in 20.65 from Darvis Patton and Jonathan Astrand. One of the medal contenders, 2010 European champion Christophe Lemaitre took the fourth heat in 20.51 from Shinji Takahira and Mosito Lehata.
Lehata became the first 100/200 sprinter from Lesotho to progress from the heats at a World Championships.
Nickel Ashmeade of Jamaica, the only other man besides Bolt under 20 seconds this year, won heat five comfortably in 20.47. Berlin 2009 silver medallist Alonso Edward looked every bit as relaxed in taking the sixth heat in 20.55.
Rondell Sorillo beat Mario Forsythe narrowly in the seventh and final heat, both men clocking 20.68, with Michael Herrera joining them in advancing to the semis.
The three non-automatic qualifiers to advance were Asian Games 200 and 400 champion Femi Ogunode, whose 20.54 for fourth in heat one ranked him eighth-fastest overall, Christian Malcolm and Churandy Martina.
Len Johnson for the IAAF