Usain Bolt on cruise control in 100 semi
DAEGU, South Korea -- Slow out of the blocks this time, Usain Bolt relied on his devastating acceleration Sunday to wipe away the field halfway through and sweep into the 100-meter final at the world championships.
Double-amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius also had to make up for a slow start and, pouncing on his carbon-fiber blades, ran past several able-bodied runners to qualify for the semifinals of the 400 in a historic breakthrough for Paralympic athletes.
Bolt let his powerful long legs do the work after seeing Jamaican teammate Michael Frater ahead of him after the starting gun, and he eventually won the heat in 10.05 seconds. The final is set for later Sunday.
Bolt was looking around with 20 meters to go and was soon stroking his hair after crossing the line as the South Korean crowd of about 35,000 cheered in awe. During Saturday's heat, he had a perfect start and slowed down, but this time he was forced to practice his midway speed. In a word -- awesome.
"I want to have Bolt next to me," said 2003 champion Kim Collins, who also advanced. "He may need to run a world record tonight."
For two years, though, Bolt has not threatened his world record time of 9.58.
The fastest time went to Bolt's teammate, Yohan Blake, who crossed in 9.95 seconds. Nesta Carter also went through to let Jamaica claim almost half the lanes in the final.
Walter Dix was the lone American through, as even France won two places with Christophe Lemaitre and Jimmy Vicaut in the final.
World indoor sprint champion Dwain Chambers was disqualified for a false start and former Olympic champion Justin Gatlin finished only fourth in his race and was eliminated.
With unstoppable showmanship, Bolt was dancing on the track to the stadium's theme tune, two hours before the final. Beyond seeking a third gold in the marquee event of a major championship, Bolt is also looking for gold in the 200 and 4x100 relay next week.
In contrast, the ambitions of Pistorius do not reach beyond getting into the final of the 400, but his achievement Sunday was also outstanding.
Pistorius recovered from his traditional slow start to pounce with power through the final bend and finishing straight to take third place in the final heat of the event. His time of 45.39 seconds was the 14th best of all competitors.
"I have worked extremely hard to be here," Pistorius said. "And it has been phenomenal to run."
Running in the tough outside lane, he had to count on a big move in the second half of the race and with 50 meters to go, five runners were still in it for the four automatic semifinal places. Pistorius dipped at the line for his third-place finish behind Bahamian winner Chris Brown.
Now, some suddenly see him as the direct rival he has become and, additionally, the competitive threat.
"With him being inside the race, automatically everybody steps up," Brown said. "No one wants to get beat by him. Me, definitely, I don't want to get beat him.
"Everybody is going to come out and run their A-plus game." The International Association of Athletics Federations had banned the multiple Paralympic gold medalist from able-bodied competition, saying the blades he wears gave him an unfair advantage.
But in 2008, Pistorius was cleared to compete by the Court of Arbitration for Sport -- even though he failed to qualify for that year's Beijing Olympics and the 2009 worlds in Berlin.
Before Pistorius' thrilling run, Liu Xiang, Dayron Robles and David Oliver made sure the most compelling final was still on track when all three qualified for the semifinals of the 110-meter hurdles.
Liu proved he is finally getting back to the form which earned the 2004 Olympic and 2007 world titles by having plenty of time to ease up at the line and still win his heat. Oliver kept his powerful shoulders in perfect balance over the hurdles as he dashed through a winner, too.
The final is set for Monday and should bring the three fastest performers in history together for one of the highlights of the nine-day championships.
Defending champion Ryan Brathwaite failed to make the semifinals.
In the women's 400, Allyson Felix looked as comfortable as ever to glide into the final but her duel with American teammate Sandra Richards-Ross was almost off. While Felix won her semifinal heat, Richards-Ross only advanced to the final with the second-best losing time.
In the first of six finals of the day, Olympic and defending world champion Valeriy Borchin led a 1-2 Russian finish in the 20-kilometer walk with a time of 1 hour, 19 minutes, 56 seconds. Vladimir Kanaykin took silver, 31 seconds behind, and Luis Fernando Lopez of Colombia was third.
The men's decathlon also reaches its climax, with defending champion Trey Hardee at the top of the standings after nine of 10 events.
The women's long jump and discus throw are the other finals on Sunday.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press
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