Posted by: Joe English | August 21, 2008

Olympics: Bolt sets new world record in 200M: Merritt wins 400M

BEIJING — In the men’s 200m there had been much buzz about whether Usain Bolt could break the unbreakable record – Michael Johnson’s 19.32 world mark set at the 1996 Athens Olympics. Given that he had crushed his own 100m world record on Saturday with a time of 9.69 seconds while celebrating for the last 20-30 meters, all eyes were on him. On Wednesday, Bolt left no doubt. Running all-out the entire race, Bolt pushed through, leaning at the finish and stopping the clock at 19.30. He shaved .02 off of Johnson’s mark.

More than a half-second behind him was a race for the rest of the medals. Defending Olympic champion Shawn Crawford (Los Angeles) had gone out hard and came into the final stretch poised for silver or bronze in lane 3, with Walter Dix (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) also running well in lane 8. The slow-starting Wallace Spearmon (Fayetteville, Ark.) came off the curve slowly in lane 9. In the straight, Spearmon turned it on, coming up to nip his two teammates for third in 19.95, behind Churandy Martina of the Dutch Antilles, who was second in 19.82. Crawford crossed the line fourth in 19.96, and Dix fifth in 19.98.

Confusion then ensued. After celebrating his bronze, Spearmon was informed that he had been disqualified for a lane violation, running on the inside line. After filing a protest, Team USA officials viewed film of the race and accepted the disqualification when they realized Spearmon had indeed committed a violation. That moved Crawford up for bronze, and Dix to fourth. Team officials also believed that the film showed second-place Martina committing a similar violation, and they protested Martina’s finish on those grounds.

After again reviewing the tape, meet officials disqualified Martina as well. That left a final finishing order of Bolt (19.30), Crawford (19.96) and Dix (19.98). It was Dix’s second bronze of the meet, adding to his 100m bronze.

Merritt the man at 400 meters

Still considered an underdog entering the 400 meters, Olympic Trials champion LaShawn Merritt (Suffolk, Va.) had only one goal, and that was gold. In the end, he led the second consecutive Olympic sweep for Team USA in the one-lap race, including Jeremy Wariner (Waco, Texas) and David Neville (Los Angeles).

Running in lane 9, Neville set a blistering pace as Wariner in lane 7 also got out well. In lane 4, Merritt started more conservatively. But as the saying goes, it’s not where you start, it’s where you finish. All three Americans came off the turn together, virtually in a dead heat. But in the final straight, it was all Merritt. The Olympic Trials champion must now be considered the favorite rather than the contender after running away from the field to win in 43.75 seconds, a personal best and the fastest time in the world this year. Wariner was nearly a full second back, in 44.74, and Neville dove for third in 44.80.

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  1. man that dude is fast.


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