Usain Bolt before his 200m heat at the IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015 (© Getty Images)
The men’s 200m heats were surprisingly uneventful.
All the big names advanced easily to the next round, with the exception of two US sprinters. Isiah Young, who had clocked 19.93 this season, was well beaten in the first heat, finishing in sixth in 20.51. Wallace Spearmon, the 2005 world silver medallist, did not start at all.
The fastest time of the round came in the first heat, where Turkey’s Ramil Guliyev clocked a 20.01 national record. Second fastest was Alonso Edward of Panama, the 2009 world silver medallist, who won the second heat in 20.11, and Britain’s Zharnel Hughes was third fastest overall, winning the fifth heat in 20.13 with Jamaica’s Julian Forte taking second in 20.16.
With his confidence high after winning the 100m, Jamaica’s Usain Bolt, who has won three consecutive titles in this event from 2009 to 2013, controlled his heat easily, winning in 20.28.
Another favourite, USA’s 100m silver medallist Justin Gatlin, won his heat with ease in 20.19. The notable second-placed athlete in Gatlin’s heat was the recent double world youth sprint champion. 16-year-old Japanese Abdul Hakim Sani Brown clocked 20.35, just one hundredth from his 20.34 personal best, to qualify easily for the semi-finals.
Greece’s Likourgos-Stefanos Tsakonas also looked relaxed winning his heat in 20.14, just 0.05 seconds off his 20.09 personal best from earlier this season. Behind the Greek, 2013 world silver medallist Warren Weir of Jamaica also progressed in a 20.24 season’s best.
The last heat generated a huge roar from the crowd, with China’s Xie Zhenye pushing himself to the third straight qualifying spot in the final metres, finishing in a 20.33 national record. But that record and joy were shortlived, because he was disqualified for a lane infraction on the bend.
Mirko Jalava for the IAAF