LONDON, England — There could be a clean sweep of the medals in the Olympic men's 200m final by runners from a nation other than the United States of America today at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, London, as red hot favourite and defending champion Usain Bolt leads a trio of Jamaicans into the race set to start at 8:55 pm UK time (2:55 pm Jamaica time).
The feat has been achieved six times already, the last two coming 20 years apart in 1984 and 2004 with the other sweep of the medals coming in 1904, 1932, 1952 and 1956.
Bolt, who holds the World record of 19.19 seconds and Olympic record of 19.30 seconds, World leader Yohan Blake (19.80 seconds) and Warren Weir, all teammate of the Racers Track Club, will face American Wallace Spearmon, France's Christophe Lemaitre, Ecuador's Alex Quinonez, Holland's Churandy Martina and South Africa's Anaso Jobodwana.
Bolt, who will seek to be the first man to retain an Olympic 200m title, looked in total control in his semi-final, taking the lead within his first few strides before cruising home in 20.01 seconds.
"My execution was only about 90 per cent," he reported. "I was working on my technique around the corner, I wanted to work hard for the first 70m to push myself to see how I felt, haven't run a corner hard in a long time."
He said, however, a clean sweep would be hard to achieve. "Churandy and Wallace have been here before and they know what it takes, a lot of people are coming to try and spoil the party."
Blake also got off to a good start and led by a wide margin before shutting down too early and was almost caught on the line by Spearmon and Lemaitre.
The American was timed in 20.02 seconds and the Frenchman ran 20.03 seconds, saying later the race plan was "just get control of the race early as my coach told me and I found I was out in front and just cruised home".
Weir did not stop to talk to the media, but Bolt said his young teammate could open some eyes here. "If Warren focuses on what he wants and really pushes himself he can do wonders, but it's his first Olympics, so he should not stress himself, just go out and do his best and that will be enough."