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August 17, 2013

Bolt is golden in 200 at worlds

MOSCOW — Forget the race. With Usain Bolt, the real fun happens after he crosses the finish line.

Now that’s entertainment.

Certainly more than his 200-meter win, when the Jamaican was so far ahead that he loafed to the line with teammate Warren Weir far behind.

And then the party was on at the world championships — Bolt style.

Plenty of preening, lots of dancing and loads of over-the-top showboating. He did his trademark bow-and-arrow pose and kissed his muscles. He picked up a camera and snapped photos of Weir, who was trailing behind him just like in Saturday’s race.

“Happy to really get it done,” Bolt said. “I pushed myself all season to be the best.”

As if there was ever any doubt.

Bolt almost worked up more of a sweat dancing than he did dashing down the track in 19.66 seconds (and that was with shutting it down with about 60 meters to go). He hopped and skipped to the reggae sounds of Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds,” much to the thrill of the crowd.

Guess that tender foot is quite all right, the one Bolt hurt when he dropped the starting blocks on it during a training session.

Even on a bum wheel, Bolt’s still, well, Bolt.

This easy win, coupled with his leisurely stroll last weekend in the 100, gives him seven career gold medals at the worlds. He needs just one more to tie Carl Lewis and Michael Johnson for most among men. And Bolt will go for another in the 4x100 relay today, the last day of competition.

“That guy is unbelievable,” said American Curtis Mitchell, who finished with the bronze medal. “I trained with him in London prior to the championships. He’s a great guy. He’s laughing and having fun. He’s a normal guy — with superb talent.”

In this race, Bolt provided all the electricity. There was no lightning before the race, no rain drops to add to the drama.

He created the drama — or removed the drama — by pulling away after rounding the curve. Although Bolt promised to run all out all the way to the finish — and possibly make a run at his world record of 19.19 — he backed off the accelerator because of tired legs and an aching foot.

That’s good enough these days, especially with no Tyson Gay (doping offense) or Yohan Blake (hamstring injury) to push him.

Asked if Bolt was simply on another planet when it comes to sprinting, Weir responded: “If you call Jamaica another planet — yes.”

“He pulled me,” Weir said. “He gives me energy.”

The Americans were certainly missing some of that in the women’s 4x400 relay. No Allyson Felix meant no gold.

Felix has helped the U.S. to three straight world titles in the relay, but couldn’t run after tearing her right hamstring in the 200 final the night before.

The squad sure could’ve used her, too, as the Russians beat the Americans after a curious exchange between the third and fourth runners. Shoulder to shoulder with Kseniya Ryzhova, Ashley Spencer was on the inside and anchor Francena McCorory was a lane over. Unable to get to her, Spencer slowed down and dropped behind the Russian to pass the baton.

It cost the Americans a few tenths of a second. The team lost by 0.22.

“I had to stop and go and it was just a mess,” Spencer explained.

Indeed, Felix was missed. So, too, was Sanya Richards-Ross, the 400 Olympic champion who didn’t qualify for the worlds at the nationals because of a surgically repaired big toe.

“We’re not always going to have Allyson or Sanya,” Jessica Beard said. “We have to step up to a higher level, to a higher standard.”

Brianna Rollins is the new standard in the 100-meter hurdles, beating Olympic champion Sally Pearson of Australia for the gold medal. That despite an extremely slow start.

“It’s been such a great year,” said Rollins, who turns 22 on Sunday. “I’m thankful.”

Other winners on Saturday included:

—Olympic champion Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda capturing the men’s marathon title.

—Ethiopian veteran Meseret Defar adding the 5,000 world title to her Olympic gold medal.

—Vitezslav Vesely of the Czech Republic taking the javelin crown.

—Svetlana Shkolina of Russia edging American Brigetta Barrett in the high jump.

“Two silvers in the last 12 months is quite a feat,” said Barrett, who also took second at the London Olympics.

Heading into Sunday, the Americans lead the standings with 20 medals overall. But the Russians hold a 7-6 edge in gold and have 15 overall. The Jamaicans are third with 10, which includes two each by Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Bolt.

Emma Green Tregaro of Sweden remained a big part of the championships, not so much for her finish in the high jump but the finish on her fingernails.

Green Tregaro wore rainbow-colored nail polish during qualifying to show support for Russian gays and lesbians in the face of an anti-gay law. She went with red Saturday as track officials said the earlier gesture may violate the meet’s code of conduct.

“It was harder to not paint them in the rainbow than it was to choose to paint them,” said Green Tregaro, who ended up fifth. “I’m surprised by the big reactions, but I’m happy about the big reaction because it’s mostly been very positive.”

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