Wounded Bolt continues to be the man to beat

Wounded Bolt continues to be the man to beat

Semenyas return generates interest

Jamaican compatriots and training partners Usain Bolt (background) and Yohan Blake should set the track on fire over the next few years in a rivalry that promises plenty of excitement. AFP

There were top-notch performances on the first four days of competition but the giant shadow of the Jamaican loomed over the Daegu stadium, with his disqualification for a false start in the 100M final dominating the discussions.

Kenya’s sweep in the women’s marathon and women’s 10000 metres, a clutch of upset victories and world-leading performances lit up the first half of the championships but when Bolt faded away from the scene in the shorter sprint, the meet seemed to lose its X-factor.

“Looking for tears? It’s not going to happen. I am okay,” said Bolt after his disqualification allowed fellow-Jamaican Yohan Blake to emerge as the fastest man of the event. Bolt, though, will be back to defend his crown in the 200 metres, besides running in the 4x100M relay – an exciting prospect for fans and experts alike.

The departure of Yelena Isinbayeva and Steven Hooker from the pole vault pit without medals provided shock value while another champion performer – four-time champion Kenenisa Bekele --  saw his unbeaten record vanish in the 10000M, failing to finish the race and pulling out of the 5000, citing fitness concerns. Like Isinbayeva, Hooker and Bolt, Cuban champion Dayron Robles too fell to the ‘Curse of the Cover’, getting disqualified for obstruction in the men’s 110M hurdles.

The Kenyans, in contrast, have been celebrating non-stop, with Edna Kiplagat leading a sweep in marathon and Vivian Cheruiyot doing likewise in the women’s 10000 metres. David Rudisha’s triumph in the 800M tripled their joy and they will be targeting more success in the coming days, with Cheruiyot gunning for a double in the 5000M. She is the defending champion in that event and has run the fastest time this year – facts that will not please her Ethiopian rivals who are a bit down at the moment.

Ethiopia, though are not out of the race yet, and Ibrahim Jeilan’s spectacular victory over favourite Mo Farah in the men’s 10000 showed that they can hit back in the coming days. Briton’s Farah too will be looking for solace in the 5000, after his unbeaten streak in the longer race was ended by a blow from the unknown.

South African Caster Semenya’s entry to defend her 800M gold will highlight the start of the second-half on Thursday. Semenya, who was barred after doubts over her gender following her Berlin triumph, was allowed back in July last year and has had a low-key build-up to these championships. There were even concerns of a back injury after she pulled out of the Universiade but the South African camp has dispelled the doubts, stating that she is fit to run. India’s Tintu Luka will also make her World Championships debut in the same event, with the first round scheduled for Thursday.

Amercian Carmelita Jeter, the 100M champion, has put off celebrations till after the 200M, and that might just be a signal for another mouth-watering clash with her great Jamaican rival Veronica Campbell-Brown on Friday. Campbell-Brown lost out after a slow start in the 100M but the 200 is right up her alley and could add another thrilling chapter in the US-Jamaican rivalry.

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