A relaxed and joking Usain Bolt safely negotiated his 200m heat at the world championships on Friday, putting behind him the dreadful false start that ruined his 100m hopes.
The Jamaican reigning world and Olympic champion, and world record holder (19.19sec), clocked 20.30sec and never looked in danger after an impeccable start.
He came off the bend well in front of the field and coasted through to the finish line, affording himself several glances over his shoulder at the chasing athletes.
Bolt, who admits he is not in world record shape this season, had insisted he would not dwell on the disappointment of his 100m disqualification.
And at a packed Daegu stadium, many seats filled for the morning session by busloads of schoolchildren, Bolt did not fail to entertain.
Goofing at the television cameras, showing the ‘V’ for victory, preening his hair and striking his trademark lightning bolt pose, Bolt seemed relaxed and a world away from the desolate figure he cut after being disqualified from Sunday’s 100m final.
When the screams and whistles died down, Bolt, wearing yellow spikes and loose singlet over black shorts, settled in his blocks and made no mistake on his departure, registering the second slowest reaction time out of 53 runners in an obvious ‘play-safe’ tactic.
The 25-year-old Jamaican, who is world leader over the 200m this season with a run of 19.86sec in Oslo, whisked himself past journalists after the race with thumbs upturned.
European champion Christophe Lemaitre and American Walter Dix, 100m silver medallist in Daegu, also coasted through their heats along with Jaysuma Saidy Ndure of Norway and Berlin silver medallist Alonso Edward of Panama.
“I’ll show you,” a buoyant Dix said when asked whether he could beat Bolt.
“I felt relaxed running out from the blocks. I just wanted to make sure I came out clean. I feel that this year, the 200m is my stronger event and I’ll definitely go for gold here.
“I’m not sure about how ready Usain is. This time it will not be as easy for him as in past years.”
Jamaican Nickel Ashmeade, the 2008 world junior silver medallist who trains with injured US star Tyson Gay under Lance Brauman in Florida, also advanced along with 2003 world champion Kim Collins.
“I have to get into the final,” said 35-year-old St Kitts and Nevis sprinter Collins, who claimed a shock bronze in the 100m in Daegu in his eighth world champs, having debuted at the 1997 worlds in Athens.
“I’m looking forward to it. I take each race as it comes. I’m not tired.”