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September 15, 2009

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Bolt ends season on a high

JAMAICAN Usain Bolt capped a remarkable year by storming to victory in the 200 meters at the World Athletics Final in Thessaloniki, Greece, on Sunday.

The 23-year-old 100 and 200 meters world and Olympic champion looked to be on course for another world record but slowed down in the final stages to finish in 19.68 seconds, 0.49 seconds slower than the mark he set at the world championships.

"I'm just happy the season is over and that I did well and stayed injury free," Bolt told reporters.

"The finish wasn't on purpose, I was a little bit tired. I was running on fumes and that was the last bit of energy I had."

Despite his achievement of eclipsing both his own 100m and 200m world records at the world championships, Bolt pinpointed Jamaica's sprint relay win in Berlin as his highlight of 2009.

"The moment that really stands out when I look back was that 4x100m relay," he said. "As a team we all really bonded and had a lot of fun. This left a great feeling for me."

In what was his last appearance of 2009, Bolt treated the sell-out crowd to more showmanship, indulging in a spot of air guitar as the theme tune of Zorba the Greek rang out over the PA system just before the race.

World bronze medallist Wallace Spearmon of the United State was second in 20.21 seconds and Brendan Christian of Antigua third in 20.65.

Bolt will now take six weeks off.

"I'm not looking forward to anything except going home and getting some sleep and relaxing to be honest," he said.

When asked if he would perhaps try to move up to the 400m or the long jump, Bolt said he would prefer the latter.

"I haven't talked with my coach or agent about what we will do next year yet. We will all sit down a week before the new season starts and then we will discuss it," he said. "I definitely prefer the long jump though."

Long jump world champion Dwight Phillips welcomed the challenge after finishing second behind Fabrice Lapierre of Australia. Lapierre won with a leap of 8.33 meters with Phillips managing 8.24.

"I have nothing to fear," Philips said. "I have won everything so let him (Bolt) come."

American Carmelita Jeter won the women's 100 meters in a rapid time of 10.67 seconds, the third fastest ever, and Croatian high jump world champion Blanka Vlasic claimed victory with a leap of 2.04 meters.

She went on to make a brave attempt to break Stefka Kostadinova's 22-year-old world record of 2.09 but failed narrowly at 2.10.

In the women's 800m, Anna Willard of the United States capitalized on the absence of world champion Caster Semenya, the South African athlete at the centre of a gender test controversy, to claim victory in a modest time of 2:00.20 minutes.


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