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Bolt eyes Rio with more gold in his hands
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 01 - 09 - 2015

BEIJING — Hard as this is to believe, there were questions about Usain Bolt when the world championships first started. Was he healthy enough? Was he fit enough? Was he — gasp! — fast enough?
Yes, yes, and a resounding yes. The Jamaican great left the Bird's Nest with three more gold medals and ended any suspicions about his dominance. Just in time, too, with the Olympic track competition in Rio de Janeiro starting 49 weeks from now.
All the doubts about Bolt — his fitness, and whether Justin Gatlin might be primed to beat him — only provided more fuel.
“People pretty much counted me out this season,” Bolt said. “They said, ‘He's not going to make it. That's it for him.' I came out and proved you can never count Usain Bolt out. I'm a champion, and I'll show up when it matters.”
As if there was ever a doubt. The only thing that tripped him up was a cameraman who ran into him from behind on a two-wheel motorized vehicle. He even bounced back from that, anchoring the 4x100 relay team to gold after winning the 100 and 200 on his own.
One thing that became clear as the meet went on is that Bolt doesn't just beat people by being faster, he gets in their heads, too.
Gatlin lost the 100 on a last-second lean that many viewed as a pressure-induced mistake. The US relay team missed the handoff — and Bolt said he pretty much expected that.
“We just know the key thing is just to get the baton around. Doesn't matter,” Bolt said. “Because the US knows we always have the best team, they tend to panic.
Pressure gets to them sometimes.” Gatlin appears to be the only man with the speed to push Bolt. Beating him is another matter.
“What will it take?” Gatlin said. “It will take staying in front. That's what it's going to take.” Good luck with that.
Here are the other top four performers from the world championships in Beijing:
Ashton Eaton (United States)
Eaton retained his title and set the only world record of the championships with a lung-bursting last lap in the 1,500m as a packed crowd in Beijing rose to acclaim the American iron man.
The Olympic champion finished with a total of 9,045 points to eclipse his previous world best by six points, helped in no small part by a decathlon best-ever 45.00 seconds in the 400m and a championship record 10.23 in the 100m.
“I thought the clock was off by a second — they should go back and check it,” said Eaton after the 400m.
Dafne Schippers (Netherlands)
The Dutchwoman smashed a 36-year-old European record to capture 200m gold days after taking silver in the 100m.
Schippers lunged for the line to beat Jamaican Elaine Thompson to the 200m title in 21.63, breaking the European mark set by Marita Koch in 1979 and matched by fellow East German Heike Drechsler in 1986.
Only Americans Marion Jones and Florence Griffith-Joyner have run the 200m faster but their careers, like those of Koch and Drechsler, were plagued by doping suspicions. Schippers insisted she had nothing to hide, snapping: “I work very hard for it, I know I'm clean.”
Mo Farah (Britain)
Farah roared to victory in the 5,000 and 10,000m to become the first man to complete a “triple-double” of distance titles at consecutive world championships and the London Olympics.
The Somali-born Farah, whose Beijing preparations were disrupted by doping allegations made against his coach Alberto Salazar, ran an eye-popping last lap of 52.6 seconds in the 5,000m to pull off the feat after surviving a bruising 10,000m final.
Farah's goofy post-race comments prompted awkward silence as he talked about playing with drones in his spare time.
Aries Merritt (United States)
Olympic champion Merritt won an emotional bronze medal in the men's 110m hurdles just days before undergoing a kidney transplant.
The American, competing at less than 20 percent kidney function, lost out to Russia's Sergey Shubenkov in the final but bravely insisted: “This bronze medal means more to me than my Olympic gold. In 2013 when they told me I'd never run again, it pretty much ended my life.”
Merritt's biggest challenge awaits and he has set himself a goal of next year's Rio Olympics, although he confessed Saturday's final could have been his last race. — Agencies


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