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Bolt defies weather to run 19.59 in Lausanne 200m

USAIN Bolt ran the fourth fastest 200-meter race ever in 19.59 seconds in sinking temperatures and heavy rainfall at the Athletissima meet yesterday.

It was one-hundredth of a second slower than what American Tyson Gay ran in May with fair weather and a breeze at his back.

But with the temperature in Lausanne dipping to 15 degrees (60 F) and the track slowed by a downpour, Bolt showed he was back in top form a year after winning the 100 and 200 in world records at the Beijing Olympics.

"I'm in good shape, but I'm not fully ready yet," said the 22-year-old Jamaican, who was aiming to peak for the world championships next month in Berlin. "I still need to work on a few technical things."

Bolt said he was "not concerned with records," even though he was within three-tenths of a second of the 19.30 he posted in Beijing. The other faster time is Michael Johnson's 19.32 at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

LaShawn Merritt was a distant second in 20.41, while fellow American Shawn Crawford - the 2004 Olympic champion and runner-up last year - finished more than a second behind in fourth.

Bolt's teammate Asafa Powell won the 100 in 10.07 seconds in what he described as a "good race" given the conditions.

"These were the worst weather conditions for a race in my whole life," Powell said.

Still, Powell called it his best performance of the season and said Bolt's world record of 9.69 seconds was within his reach, even though he was nowhere close on Tuesday on the same track where he clocked 9.72 a year ago.

Underscoring the Jamaican dominance in the sprints, Isa Phillips won the 400 hurdles in 48.18 seconds to beat American Kerron Clement. On the women's side, Jamaicans Kerron Stewart and Shericka Williams had a 1-2 finish in the women's 200, while Shelly-Ann Fraser won the 100 in 11.03 seconds, just 0.03 ahead of American Carmelita Jeter.

"It's important to win here and it's good for preparing for the world championship," said Fraser, the Olympic champion. "The weather is not so bad. A bit cold, but I wasn't thinking about it."

Three other gold medalists in Beijing were soundly beaten.

Jamaica's Melanie Walker was slow out of the blocks in the 400 hurdles and finished fourth as American Tiffany Ross-Williams won in 54.73 seconds, while Australia's Sally McLellan took the 100 hurdles in 12.60 seconds as American Dawn Harper fell back to a disappointing sixth.

In the javelin, Barbora Spotakova of the Czech Republic was upset by Germany's Steffi Nerius. Spotakova rescued second with a final throw of 64.38 meters, nearly 8 meters short of the world record she set at the Olympics a year ago.

Cuba's Yargelis Savigne won the triple jump with a mark of 14.91 meters. But 2007 world champion Maryam Jamal was second in the 1,500 behind Ethiopia's Gelete Burka, who won in 4 minutes, 0.67 seconds.

On the men's side, Olympic champ Steve Hooker of Australia started his outdoor season by clearing 5.75 meters to win the pole vault.

Cuba's Daryon Robles, another gold medalist in Beijing, won the men's 110 hurdles in 13.18 seconds.

"I came here to run a good race," said Robles, whose world record stands at 12.87. "But with this rain, it's too difficult."

For everyone but Bolt, apparently.


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