Bolt, Crawford cruise into 200m semi-finals

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Usain Bolt remained on course to claim a world sprint double after coasting through to the semi-finals of the event on Tuesday.

Updated: August 19, 2009 17:13 IST
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Olympic 200m champion and world record holder Usain Bolt remained on course to claim a world sprint double after coasting through to the semi-finals of the event on Tuesday.

The 22-year-old Jamaican, who set a new world record of 9.58sec in winning the 100m on Sunday, is seeking to emulate his triple Olympic gold medal haul achieved at the Beijing Games last year.

After an opening heat in the morning session, which he won, Bolt turned in a mighty impressive performance in the quarter-final, and it is difficult to see him being beaten, injury and a shocking loss of form permitting.

American Tyson Gay, the defending triple world sprint champion, finished second to Bolt in the 100m in an American record time of 9.71sec but aggravated a nagging groin injury.

Gay then decided not to race in the 200m and defend his title, instead focusing on preparing for a possible appearance in the US 4x100m relay.

In Gay's absence, the mantle in the much-hyped US v Jamaica sprint-off passed to veteran Shawn Crawford, the US champion, and Wallace Spearmon, who won bronze in Osaka in 2007.

Crawford, the 2004 Olympic 200m champion and former training partner of disgraced sprinter Justin Gatlin, made no mistake by also progressing to the semi-finals, winning his quarter with ease in 20.37sec.

Crawford finished a distant fourth behind Bolt at Beijing but found himself promoted ultimately to second as Spearmon and Churandy Martina of the Dutch Antilles were disqualified.

Martina did not start here, but Spearmon, who also won silver in the Helsinki worlds in 2005, finished second behind Panama's Alonso Edward in his heat, with Germany's Robert Hering delighting the crowd with his third place finish.

The third heat saw Jamaican Steve Mullings clock the fastest time of 20.23sec, with Azeribaijan youngster Ramil Guliyev and Paul Hession of Ireland the unlikely automatic qualifiers in second and third.

Dwain Chambers, who finished sixth in the 100m final, did not start the day's heats, but compatriot Marlon Devonish, the 2003 world indoor 200m champion and multi-medal winning relay team member, ensured a British presence when he finished second behind Crawford.

Bolt, sporting bright orange running shoes, again suffered a slow-reaction start but the race was over by 50 metres after he had tracked down France's Martial Mbandjock on his outside.

Once around the bend into the final stretch, the chicken nugget-loving Bolt propelled his towering frame through to 160-metre mark and then took his foot off the gas to win in 20.41sec, a long way off his world record of 19.30sec set at the Beijing Games final.

The semi-finals will be run on Wednesday at 1725 GMT with the final slated for 1835 GMT on Thursday.

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