Usain Bolt has made a point of saying it over and over again here in London.
The 200-metre sprint is, despite the glitz and glamour of the 100 metres, his “favourite event,” and a gold medal he badly wants to add to his haul here on Thursday night.
He could become the first man to repeat in both distances, which has proven difficult in large part because some 24 sprinters have been unable to ever regain the 200-metre Olympic gold.
Bolt has already joined Carl Lewis as the only man to win the 100 metres two Games in a row.
“I have to defend my 200 metre title also,” Bolt said when asked if he was the “legend” he wanted to be after winning gold in the 100 on Sunday. “Then I’ll consider myself a legend.”
The problem for the world record holder, however, is a new challenger in fellow Jamaican Yohan Blake, who has the top time of anyone in the finals (19.80) this season and a personal best (19.26) right near Bolt’s 19.19, which is from way back in 2009.
Blake isn’t particularly decorated at the distance. All of his world junior and world championship medals are at 100 or in the relay, but he has the top time in the world the past three years and shaved a half second off his best time in 2011.
Blake then beat Bolt at both distances at the Jamaican Olympic trials, albeit just barely, by 0.03.
What we won’t likely see in Thursday’s final is a repeat of is what happened in Beijing, where Bolt was nearly two-thirds of a second in front of everyone else and two of the fastest competitors (Churandy Martina and Wallace Spearmon) were disqualified for stepping in another lane.
The bronze medal there went to American Walter Dix in 2008, who ran just 19.98, but five of the eight men in this final have run 19.95 or better this season alone.
There’s also plenty of talk a new world record could be set in the 200, which has had only two men (Bolt and Michael Johnson) hold it in the last 16 years dating back to the Atlanta Games.
Compare that with the 100, which has been broken 10 times by five different people since Donovan Bailey’s 1996 record of 9.84.
The track here in London, however, is quick, and Bolt and Blake are capable of getting down to that low 19 second mark, as evidenced by just how easy it was for them going through the heats and semi-finals.
Twenty seconds flat is an evening stroll for both.
“There’s a possibility, definitely,” Bolt said of a new world record. “I can’t say [for sure] but the track is fast. It’s going to be a good race