Usain Bolt laughs off criticism from Justin Gatlin after London victory

Usain Bolt laughs off criticism from Justin Gatlin after London victory

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Usain Bolt

Usain Bolt accused sprint rival Justin Gatlin of “disrespect” after proving his fitness for the Rio Olympics in London on Friday night.

The six-time Olympic champion, making his first appearance since pulling out of the Jamaican trials with a hamstring strain and in his final race before Rio, clocked 19.89 seconds to win over 200 metres at the Muller Anniversary Games.

The 29-year-old received a medical exemption to miss the trials, with two-time drug cheat Gatlin, his main rival for 100m gold in Rio, one of a number of United States sprinters who claimed he got preferential treatment he would not receive were he American.

“He’s injured, gets a medical pass, that’s what his country does. Our country doesn’t do that,” Gatlin was quoted as saying in the American press.

Bolt, who was hailed as the saviour of his sport after his 100m and 200m victories ahead of Gatlin at last year’s World Championships in Beijing, gave short shrift to the comments.

“For me I felt it was a joke, I felt it was a disrespect they think I’d back out of a trials,” he said.

“I’ve proven myself year on year that I’m the greatest. I laughed when I heard it, I was disappointed, especially in Justin Gatlin.”

Briton Adam Gemili, one of those closing on a grimacing Bolt as the line approached, clocked a season’s best 20.07secs to finish third.

Bolt was expected to open up a gap off the bend, but appeared to work hard on the finishing straight, showing there is plenty of work to do if he is to fulfil his aim of bettering his 2009 world record of 19.19s in Rio.

Kendra Harrison did set a 100m hurdles world record, having failed to qualify for the Olympics with a disappointing showing at the American trials.

She clocked 12.20, to beat a 28-year-old world record, while Jessica Ennis-Hill had to settle for eighth in 13.04s after clattering a hurdle.

The Olympic heptathlon champion was happy, though, having set a season’s best in the heat of 12.76. The only time she has run quicker was en route to London 2012 gold in 12.54.
Ennis-Hill’s fellow heptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson recorded an outdoor personal best in the high jump of 1.95m.

The pair are scheduled to compete in the long jump on Saturday afternoon.

The best British performance of Friday night’s action came from Laura Muir, who broke Kelly Holmes’ national 1500m record, set when the double Olympic champion won gold in Athens in 2004.

The Scot powered well clear of the field to win in 3:57.49, a time which ranks her second in the world this year and makes her a real medal contender in Rio.

The 23-year-old said: “I’m over the moon with that. It’s not just any record. It’s Kelly Holmes’ Olympic gold medal record. That couldn’t have made my confidence any higher.”

Britain’s women’s 4x100m relay team also demonstrated their medal potential by setting a new national record and the fastest time in the world this year.

The quartet of Asha Philip, Desiree Henry, Dina Asher-Smith and Daryll Neita claimed a dominant victory in 41.81, taking 0.29 off the previous British record, set last year.

Christine Ohuruogu justified her inclusion in the British team for the individual 400m in Rio by running the fastest time in the country this year at 51.05.

It was only good enough for fifth place as Shaunae Miller of the Bahamas took victory in a world-leading 49.55.

Eilidh Doyle, fresh from a Diamond League win and personal best of 54.09 in the 400m hurdles in Monaco a week ago, was made to pay for a bad stutter going into the final barrier as she had to settle for fourth place in 54.70.

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