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Usain Bolt, Justin Gatlin cruise into 200m semis

Jamaican champion clocks 20.28 seconds, while American is timed at 20.19 seconds as they win their respective heats at Bird's Nest

Beijing: Usain Bolt icily dismissed the threat of Justin Gatlin after the rivals cruised into the semi-finals of the 200 metres at the IAAF World Championships yesterday.

Jamaica's Usain Bolt (20.28 seconds) and American Justin Gatlin (20.19 seconds) cruise to victory in their respective 200-metre heats at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing yesterday. The semi-finals will be held today while the final is tomorrow. Pics/AFP
Jamaica's Usain Bolt (20.28 seconds) and American Justin Gatlin (20.19 seconds) cruise to victory in their respective 200-metre heats at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing yesterday. The semi-finals will be held today while the final is tomorrow. Pics/AFP 

The Jamaican superstar, who pipped two-time doping offender Gatlin to win gold in Sunday's final in Beijing, eased up with some 50 metres to go after coming off the bend well ahead of the field to win his heat in 20.28 seconds.

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Gatlin, after failing in his bid to dethrone Bolt as the king of men's sprinting, won his heat in 20.19 seconds. But Bolt, whose 100m victory gave athletics a boost after allegations of widespread doping plunged the sport into crisis, shrugged when asked if was confident of beating Gatlin once more to retain his double world sprint title.

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"I'm always confident. I knew the 200 was going to be harder because I'm not in the best of fitness," said the six-times Olympic champion and world record-holder, who struggled with pelvic joint pain earlier in the season.

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"Definitely I was trying to make sure I ran at least 130 metres of the race and then I kind of shut it down. Everybody knows the 200 actually means more for me than the 100, so I'm trying to get through the rounds as comfortably as possible and using as little energy as possible," added Bolt.

Gatlin said the 100m was emotionally tough for him. "The 100m final was a difficult race for me, also emotionally. I made some mistakes at the end of the race but now I'm going for the 200," said the American, who had been unbeaten in 28 races stretching back two years to the Moscow world championships before being floored again by his nemesis Bolt.

Azeri-born Turk Ramil Guliyev grabbed his moment in the spotlight to record the fastest time of the heats at 20.01 seconds. The 200m final is tomorrow.

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