Usain Bolt took back the world lead from Tyson Gay in the 200 meters, winning in 19.73 seconds at a Diamond League meet in Paris on Saturday night.
Gay was not in the field at Stade de France, nor was Olympic silver medalist Yohan Blake.
Still, anything less than a world-leading time from Bolt would have thrown more doubt over his favorite status as August’s world championships draw closer. Gay ran a 19.74 to win U.S. nationals in June and owns the two fastest 100-meter times in the world this season.
Bolt benefited from running in lane six Saturday, having Jamaican teammate and Olympic bronze medalist Warren Weir (second in 19.92) to pace off of in lane seven. Still, Bolt admitted he didn’t run the turn as well as he would have liked in a post-race interview on French TV.
Bolt also confirmed after the race he will compete in London’s Olympic Stadium on July 26-27, a Diamond League meet being dubbed the Anniversary Games one year after the Olympics.
Gay, Blake and Bolt are not expected to race against one another until the world championships. Blake may not race at the world championships at all, having withdrawn from Jamaican trials last month due to injury.
Other highlights from Paris:
Women’s 100: Two-time Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (10.92) held off Nigerian Blessing Okagbare (10.93), both running season’s bests with a slight headwind. Okagbare was going for a rare feat over seven days after winning a 200 in Birmingham, England, on Sunday and a long jump in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Thursday.
The Ivory Coast’s Murielle Ahoure (11.01), Trinidad and Tobago’s Kelly-Ann Baptiste (11.10) and U.S. champion English Gardner (11.13) rounded out the top five. Gardner had run a 10.85 to win nationals and a 10.96 to win the NCAA title for Oregon in June.
Baptiste still owns the world lead in 10.83, but this was a positive performance from Fraser-Pryce, who looks to be in the driver’s seat heading toward worlds.
Men’s 110 hurdles: Olympic champion Aries Merritt erased any concerns over his third-place finish at nationals by winning in 13.09, a season’s best for the world-record holder by .14.
Merritt’s teammates at worlds, David Oliver (13.13), Ryan Wilson (13.15) and Jason Richardson (13.22), were third, sixth and seventh, respectively. 2008 Olympic champion Dayron Robles, who won’t run at worlds due to a dispute with Cuba’s federation, was ninth (last place) in 13.40.
Men’s 400: Grenada’s Kirani James (43.96) ran his second-ever sub-44 race to win over American rival LaShawn Merritt (44.09) in another battle of the last two Olympic champions.
James now owns the two fastest times of the season, pairing the 43.96 with a 44.02, while Merritt set a season’s best with the 44.09. James, 20, is the only non-American to go sub-44. Michael Johnson has done it a record 22 times.
It should be a two-man show at worlds. Nobody else has run within six tenths of a second of James and Merritt this year, according to IAAF.
Notes: Ethiopian triple Olympic champion Tirunesh Dibaba — the Baby-Faced Destroyer — won the women’s 5,000 in a world-leading 14:23.68, beating a field that included her sister Genzebe. … British Olympic long jump champion Greg Rutherford injured his hamstring, the same body part that took him out at 2011 worlds. “Looks like bad news people. The old injury strikes. Hamstring pull,” he tweeted.