By Raf Casert ,AP
BEIJING — Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin set up the sequel to their world championship sprint showdown on Wednesday, both winning their semifinal heats in the 200 meters.
After Bolt edged the American by .01 second in Sunday’s 100 final, he will be seeking his record 10th world title overall on Thursday at the Bird’s Nest. Bolt was grinning widely after crossing in 19.95 seconds, coasting for about 60 meters and checking the stadium screens high up in the stands to see if someone could come close. As usual, none did. “You save as much energy as possible, because you’re going to need it,” Bolt said.
In the previous semifinal heat, Gatlin, unbeaten over two years in the 200, ran 19.87 seconds but worked a little longer than Bolt before easing up. The two topped the qualifying times, with no one else breaking the 20-second barrier.
On a night when javelin thrower Julius Yego and steeplechaser Hyvin Kiyeng Jepkemoi extended the surprising lead of the Kenyans in the medals table to six gold, two of their teammates were provisionally suspended following initial positive doping tests. The IAAF said it targeted Joyce Zakary, a 400-meter runner, and hurdler Koki Manunga for testing after competing in Beijing.
Jepkemoi won a three-way sprint to the line to take the gold medal in the 3,000-meter steeplechase ahead of Habiba Ghibri of Tunesia and Gesa Krause of Germany. After a tight last lap, all three finished within .14 seconds of each other. On the field, Yego set the best javelin mark in 14 years with a throw of 92.72 meters, good enough for an African record on top of gold.
In the most competitive final in history with five throwers surpassing 87 meters, Ihab Abdelrahman El Sayed of Egypt took silver with a throw of 88.99 and 2007 world champion Tero Pitkamaki of Finland took bronze with 87.64. With Yarisley Silva of Cuba clearing 4.90 meters to win the pole vault ahead of Fabiana Murer of Brazil and Nikoleta Kyriakopoulou of Greece, the Americans were locked out of a medal. Jenn Suhr, the Olympic champion, and Sandi Morris finished in a share of fourth place after failing to clear 4.80. Zuzana Hejnova of the Czech Republic kept the United States from gold in the 400 hurdles. Shamier Little of the United States got silver.