BERLIN (Reuters) - Jamaica’s Usain Bolt shattered his own 200 meters world record on Thursday to win gold at the world championships in a breathtaking 19.19 seconds and secure his place as the greatest sprinter ever seen.
One year exactly after he posted 19.30 seconds at the Beijing Olympics to beat Michael Johnson’s “untouchable” 19.32 from the Atlanta Games, he sliced another 11 hundredths of a second off just as he did in Sunday’s 100 when he ran 9.58.
Bolt, who turns 23 on Saturday, is now the world record holder and world and Olympic champion in both sprints — something no other athlete has achieved.
“I was trying, I was dying,” he said. “It wasn’t a good race I can say but it was a fast one.”
Jamaica’s gold rush continued in the women’s 400 hurdles when Olympic champion Melaine Walker ran the second-fastest time ever — 52.42 seconds — to take the island’s tally to five.
Ryan Brathwaite of Barbados won the 110 hurdles in a blanket finish with the first three divided by one hundredth of a second.
Croatia’s Blanka Vlasic went some way to making up for her Olympic disappointment when she retained the women’s high jump title with a leap of 2.04 meters, while Trey Hardee survived a grueling 12-hour second day to win the decathlon.
Bolt said he had been working on his start and the evidence was there for all to see as within half a dozen of his galloping strides he had run down Panama’s Alonso Edward, who went on to finish second in 19.81.
“Unbelievable — a ridiculous race. The bend is unbelievable,” said former record-holder Johnson while commentating for the BBC. “No one has ever run a bend like this and probably never will.”
Bolt romped down the home straight, the effort stitched across his face, and crossed the line pointing at the clock.
“I did well for myself and I’m on my way to becoming a legend,” he said, to universal agreement.
“We call him ‘Insane Bolt,’ said Wallace Spearmon of the U.S., who took third in 19.85.
However, even Bolt has to defer when it comes to the title of world’s greatest all-round athlete and Hardee fully deserves the title.
The American produced three successive season’s bests in the 110 hurdles (13.86), discus (48.08) and pole vault (5.20) then somehow found a 68-meter javelin throw, his best by almost four meters, for a hefty lead of 264 points going into the 1,500.
He duly got round safely to finish with 8,790 points, well ahead of Cuba’s Leonel Suarez and Aleksandr Pogorelov of Russia.
In the 400 hurdles, Walker produced a storming last 100 to overtake American Lashinda Demus and post a time bettered only by the 52.34 of Russian Yuliya Pechonkina.
Brathwaite, 21, took the 110 honors by the thickness of his vest in 13.14.
Terrence Trammell had to settle for his third world silver to go with two from the Olympics as he finished ahead of compatriot David Payne after both clocked 13.15.
Bolt is not the only man with double vision either as Kenenisa Bekele and Yusuf Saad Kamel are on course to join him.
Bekele, who won his fourth successive 10,000 gold on Saturday, was the fastest qualifier for the 5,000 final while Kamel, who claimed the 1,500 on Wednesday night, was up early to win his 800m heat.
Following the news that the 18-year-old South African 800 winner Caster Semenya is undergoing gender verification tests, officials in her home country leapt to her defense.
“I am not going to let that girl be humiliated in the manner she was humiliated because she has not committed a crime whatsoever,” said Athletics South Africa president Leonard Chuene.
Friday’s finals are in the men’s 50km walk, women’s 200m, men’s 400m, women’s discus and men’s high jump.
Editing by Ken Ferris