LONDON – Usain Bolt set up a last date with a 100-meter final, and Justin Gatlin will be waiting there for him.
Bolt was again slow out of the blocks, came back strong and coasted to the line. But that was only good enough for second in his world championship semifinal heat behind Christian Coleman on Saturday. The American won the heat in 9.97 seconds, .01 seconds ahead of the Jamaican great.
Bolt, who has been struggling with form for much of the season, hasn’t had a strong start yet at the Olympic Stadium, and it could cost him in the final.
Still, Bolt and Coleman were the only two sprinters to break the 10-second mark, with 2011 champion Yohan Blake winning his semifinal heat in 10.04 for third fastest.
Even though the 60,000-sellout crowd was shouting “Usain Bolt, Usain Bolt,” the multiple Olympic champion was subdued by his standards, showing little of the flashy hyperbole that has marked his greatest moments.
Two years ago, Bolt just held off Gatlin in the world championship final. The 2004 Olympic champion also finished second in his heat on Saturday, behind Akani Simbine. The South African had a time of 10.05 seconds, an edge of .04 seconds over Gatlin.
Other finals on Saturday are the men’s discus and long jump, and the women’s 10,000. Earlier, there was another runner who put on a show that was almost vintage Bolt.
Slow start, work your way up, and at the end look left and right before coasting first across the line in a jog.
This time it was Wayde van Niekerk winning his opening heat in the 400, his first race of possibly six in as many days at the world championships. The Olympic champion crossed in 45.27 seconds, .26 ahead of Nery…