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Sunday, July 1, 2012
Updated: July 2, 7:55 AM ET
Yohan Blake beats Usain Bolt again

Associated Press

KINGSTON, Jamaica -- No posing, no salutes, no fist pumping. First, Yohan Blake fell to both knees and rested his head on the track. A bit later, he simply paced in front of the jam-packed grandstand at National Stadium and stared into the crowd, letting all those fans soak in a nice, long look.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the man to beat at the London Olympics.

In a result that no longer feels like a surprise, Blake beat Usain Bolt in the 200 meters at the Jamaican Olympic trials Sunday, finishing in 19.80 seconds to edge the world-record holder by 0.03.

When it was over, Bolt was the first one to approach his training partner and buddy and give him a big bear hug. Moments later, Bolt was down on the ground, getting his right hamstring stretched out, while Blake was going through his understated celebration. At one point, he raised one finger to his mouth, as if asking everyone to "shhhhh." But the fans didn't listen. They now have not one, but two, legitimate gold medal prospects for the men's sprints in London.

Blake/Bolt
Yohan Blake has beaten Usain Bolt in both the 100 meters and 200 meters at the Jamaican Olympic trials.

"Usain always gives me a lot of encouragement and tells me to keep coming to this race," Blake said about the 200.

Boy, did he.

The win came two days after Blake, the reigning world champion at 100 meters, beat Bolt in the 100 by running a personal-best 9.75.

That was a shocker, but there were explanations -- most notably the terrible starts Bolt got off to throughout the 100 heats and in the final, to say nothing of any doubt that might still linger over the false start that scratched him from worlds last year.

Bolt has always considered the 200, which better suits his lanky 6-foot-5 frame, his real work. And now, indeed, he has work to do there, as well.

As they approached the finish, Bolt was grimacing -- or was that the hint of a frustrated smile? -- as he looked to his left to see what very few thought possible earlier this week: Blake beating him to the line for the second time in three days.

"I can never be discouraged," Bolt said. "I'm never worried until my coach gets worried, and my coach isn't worried, so I'm OK."

Said Glen Mills, who coaches both runners: "Usain, he has the experience, the ability, he has been there already. He might be a little off at the moment, but I'm sure when the time of delivery comes around, he'll be on top of his game."

The clock is ticking. As of Sunday, there were 34 days until the start of the men's 100 heats at Olympic Stadium.

In the women's 200, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce ran a personal best 22.10 seconds to also complete the 100-200 sweep. She'll be joined by Sherone Simpson and two-time defending Olympic champion Veronica Campbell-Brown.

Fraser-Pryce took the world by surprise four years ago when she won the 100 at Beijing. Her next act could be this 200, her second-best event, where she beat Simpson with lots of room to spare, a 0.27-second margin.

"I'm still learning, you know," Fraser-Pryce said.

Even at that, Fraser-Pryce and the rest of the Jamaicans have some ground to make up. At U.S. trials this weekend, Allyson Felix won the 200 final, also in a personal best of 21.69 seconds.

"I'm happy for Allyson," said Campbell-Brown, who finished third in 22.42. "That's a very good time for her. And the faster we run, the sweeter it will be at the Olympic Games, because anyone who wins that will have to run very, very fast."

While word of Felix's mark had been swirling around Jamaica for about 24 hours, details of Blake's victory were just working their way to the States, where Wallace Spearmon won the 200 in 19.82 seconds Sunday.

"Honestly, I figured they'd run about 19.5 or 19.6 today," Spearmon said. "You caught me off guard a little. Not a bad thing, but I didn't know."

Now, the guessing game figures to take on Olympics-sized proportions.

Blake, Bolt and Mills all conceded that Blake came into these trials in better shape than the man whose marks -- 9.58 and 19.19 -- sit atop the record book.

So, was Bolt genuinely just coasting through this weekend in front of all his home fans, making sure he made it, getting ready to defend his Olympic titles? Is his conditioning not up to snuff, and if so, is there time for him to get there? Or, might he be hurting, as it appeared when he was getting his leg worked on while lying on the track?

"I don't want to get into that," Bolt said. "I was just working (the leg) around for a few moments to get myself back together. I'm not far off. I can get it done."

Blake will be making his first trip to the Olympics, which can be a daunting prospect. After these pair of benchmark victories, he sounded ready for more work, not a celebration.

"It leaves me to get back into training," Blake said. "It's not over. I still have the Olympics to go."

On the other hand, if Bolt was feeling any sense that he had it made -- well, he no longer has to worry about that.

He said Sunday's race was lost in the curve -- the same curve Blake has been watching Bolt run for the past several months in practice, picking up tips, learning the nuances.

"I was very sad with my turn, it was awful, but I've been working more on the 100 meters," Bolt said. "I can't blame it on that, though. Just have to get my things together and get it done."

After Bolt's bad curve, he came into the straightaway with a deficit. Finally, over the last 50 meters, the Olympic champion started closing.

Like a racecar driver catching a glimpse of something lurking in his rearview mirror, Blake could see Bolt making up ground out of the corner of his eye.

The best ones know how to close things out.

"I felt him on my right-hand side. No need to panic," Blake said. "I just stayed focused."