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Bolt Will Run in Both 100, 200

200-meter specialist Usain Bolt will run the 100, in which he recently set a world record, at the Olympics.
200-meter specialist Usain Bolt will run the 100, in which he recently set a world record, at the Olympics. (By Sang Tan -- Associated Press)
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By Amy Shipley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 3, 2008

BEIJING, Aug. 3 -- The world's fastest man has decided to try to prove it at the Summer Games.

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After mulling the issue for months, Jamaican Usain Bolt will compete in both the 100 and 200 meters in the track and field competition that begins Aug. 15. Bolt, 22, was considering running just the 200, which he considers his specialty, on the advice of his coach, Glen Mills.

But Bolt decided to compete in both events, his London-based agent Ricky Simms told the Associated Press in a text message Saturday.

He immediately becomes the gold medal favorite in both events, and his presence likely will make the men's 100 one of the most anticipated finals of the Games. The 100 will feature a showdown between the world record holder (Bolt), the former world record holder (Jamaican Asafa Powell) and the reigning world champion (American Tyson Gay).

Bolt, who had run in Powell's and Gay's shadows last year, stunned the track and field world May 31 in New York when he ran 9.72 seconds, breaking Powell's world record of 9.74 seconds. In that race, Bolt crushed Gay -- who beat both Bolt and Powell at last year's world championships in Osaka.

Recent months have jumbled track's pecking order. Gay ran a wind-aided 9.68 seconds in the 100 at the U.S. trials in Eugene in early July, but he pulled out of the 200 after suffering a muscle cramp in the first round. Barbara Huebner, a spokesperson for Gay's management agency, said via e-mail Sunday morning that Gay's recovery is going well and he expects to be ready for competition here.

Powell, meantime, fell into the background early this summer while recovering from hamstring problems, but resurfaced two weeks ago when he beat Bolt in a 100 race in Stockholm, finishing in 9.88 seconds to Bolt's 9.89.

After Bolt broke the world record, he said he wanted to compete in that event in Beijing but would follow the advice of his coach. Mills said he feared Bolt would jeopardize his chances in the 200 if he added another race. As recently as last weekend, he said attempting the sprint double might be too much for Bolt.

At 6 feet 5, Bolt is one of the tallest elite sprinters ever. His technique in the 100 is considered questionable at best, but his long legs and rapid leg turnover have made him nearly impossible to beat when he gets a good start.

His personal best in the 200, 19.76 seconds, is the fifth-fastest ever. Michael Johnson, the world record holder in the 200 with a best of 19.32 seconds, said during the U.S. Olympic trials he expected that Bolt would soon surpass his record.


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