World 100m and 200m record holder Usain Bolt has given himself a passing grade after speeding to 19.56 seconds (wind -0.8 m/s) — the fourth fastest 200m in history at Saturday’s seventh staging of the JN Jamaica International Invitational in Kingston.
The lanky sprinter holds two of the previous fastest times in the half-lap event with 19.19 and 19.30 seconds in 2009 and 2008, respectively, while former world record holder Michael Johnson sped to 19.32 in 1996.
Cheered on by 30,000 spectators Bolt, who ran in lane five, took the lead by the 60-metre mark before opening up a 10-metre gap on his closest rival Wallace Spearmon (19.98secs), who ran from lane six.
“This race puts me into a good place because in previous seasons I wouldn’t come out here and run all-out, but I gave it a good shot. It’s my first real race for the season, so I went out there to see where I’m at and to get my confidence and get settled for the season, so 19.5 is very good,” Bolt said, indicating that he wanted to give the home crowd a good show.
“I pretty much gave 95 per cent and I’m feeling good. I have a of lot more work to do,” the 23-year-old added.
The Glen Mills-coached sprinter confessed that he still has a lot more work to do before he hits top form this season.
“I’ll tell you the truth, I’ve really gone backwards because my start is kind of rusty because we haven’t been doing a lot of starts. My corner is also off; I only did one day (of practice), so there is a lot more work to go into this, as I said, it’s just May, so I’m OK,” he said.
The triple Olympic and World Championship gold medallist bettered his own stadium record of 19.75 done in 2007.
“19.5 is very good, I’m not trying to break any records this season, so I would say I’m in good condition and I still have more work to do, so it’s looking good,” Bolt said, noting that he is looking forward to facing Tyson Gay, Asafa Powell and the other top sprinters on the Diamond League circuit.
“I’m definitely looking forward to this season… it should be an exciting season because there is no championships, so it should be just showdowns, race after race,” he said.
Bolt’s next race will be the 100m on May 19 in Daegu, Korea. He also has races lined up for Shanghai on May 23, Ostrava May 27 and New York on June 12.