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August 18, 2009

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Bolt guns for 9.4 after Berlin blitz

NEWLY crowned 100 meters world champion Usain Bolt said he could run the distance in 9.4 seconds after shattering his own world record with a time of 9.58 in the Berlin final on Sunday.

Bolt thundered to victory and a world championship gold medal, slashing 0.11 seconds off the mark he set at last year's Beijing Olympics. American Tyson Gay settled for silver in 9.71 and fellow Jamaican Asafa Powell in third.

"I said 9.4. I think it will stop at 9.4 but you never know," Bolt told reporters. "We'll just keep racing," the 22-year-old said after his mesmerizing run.

"I don't run for world records. The aim was just to come and execute because it was going to be a tough race. I got a pretty good start. I was there at 20 meters and that was it," Bolt, who is due in the city for the Shanghai Golden Grand Prix next month, said.

Gay, who has struggled with a nagging groin injury, said Bolt's race proved humans could run even faster. "I've been telling you someone could run 9.5. I'm happy he did it," said the softly-spoken American. "It showed a human can take it to another level. Unfortunately, I wasn't the one to do it but I still have confidence I can do it one day."

Gay said he dealt with his injury as best he could. "I showed a lot of heart. I didn't complain about my groin injury. I put it together the best I could," the 27-year-old told reporters. "My groin, it is barely hanging on."

The pair are due to meet again in the 200m with the final set for Thursday, though Gay's agent Mark Wetmore said the sprinter's participation would be discussed with his doctor on Monday.

For decades 10 seconds was the benchmark for a world class sprinter and only the very best dipped under.

Jim Hines clocked 9.95 at altitude in the Mexico Olympics and that mark lasted 15 years until Calvin Smith ran 9.93.

Only in the late 1980s, initially through the now-expunged times of Ben Johnson and then the likes of Carl Lewis, Leroy Burrell and Donovan Bailey, did it start to edge down regularly, still usually by a 100th at a time.

Maurice Greene began the era of chunk-taking when he took five hundredths off Bailey's mark. Asafa Powell continued the trend before Bolt took over.

He took two hundredths off his compatriot's mark in May 2008 with 9.72 then three more in Beijing.

Then on Sunday, an unbelievable 11 hundredths. After taking 30 years to work its way through the '9.9s' the record has raced through the '9.6s' in exactly 12 months.

Advances in track and spike technology, nutrition and scientific training methods have no doubt helped the advance in times but the bottom line is that Bolt is just a once-in-a-century athlete who has earned the admiration and respect of fans and rivals alike.


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