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Athletics | International

Bolt building confidence ahead of Worlds



Usain Bolt is looking to build confidence for the world championships in Moscow by racing in the 200 metres at the Areva Meeting in Paris on Saturday.

In the ninth leg of the Diamond League, Bolt will take on Jamaican compatriots Warren Weir, Nickel Ashmeade and Jason Young, along with former European 200 champion Christophe Lemaitre of France. All five sprinters have run below 20 seconds.

"I'm just trying to make sure I get a couple of results before the championships," Bolt said on Friday, "and get the routine right when the championships come, because that's what really matters."

Bolt is the 200 world record-holder and has won the last two world and Olympic titles. He has the second best time this season, 19.79 seconds at the Bislett Games in Oslo on June 13.

Tyson Gay ran the fastest 200 this year, 19.74 at the US trials on June 23.

Although Gay wasn't in Paris, Bolt was not underestimating the competition.

"I never said I'm invincible," he said. "When I'm in great shape and I'm at the top of my game, I'm very confident that no one can beat me because I know what I'm capable of.

"But you can be beaten. There's times when you get injuries, there's times when you're off your game. There's so many different scenarios that can happen."

Weir ran 19.79 in Kingston last month to win the Jamaican trials. In May, the Olympic bronze medalist also won the 200 in Shanghai and New York.

Bolt should break the meet record of 20.01, set by Michael Johnson in 1990, if his challengers push him hard enough.

The six-time Olympic champ came close to breaking that mark in 2011, but a bout of flu prevented him from racing at full throttle. Bolt clocked 20.03 then to outclass Lemaitre by 0.18.

Bolt's form and motivation were questioned when he lost by one hundredth of a second to Justin Gatlin in the 100 at Rome's Golden Gala on June 6.

But Bolt has recovered by winning the 200 in Oslo, and running 9.94 in the 100 at the Jamaican trials.

"I'm really trying to get back on target, trying to get up to speed," Bolt said. "I'm feeling great in training, I'm running pretty well. I have a few more weeks to go."

The worlds start on August 10.

In the men's 400, world and Olympic champion Kirani James of Grenada said he was looking forward to another race with LaShawn Merritt of the United States. James believed the more he's pushed the longer he'll be motivated.

"(I'm) just trying to stay consistent and just trying to be around this sport as long as I possibly can," James said. "I don't want to be a two-year or three-year wonder and people wondering what happened to Kirani."

James ran a season-best 44.02 to beat Merritt in Shanghai on May 18. But the American took his revenge in Eugene, Oregon on June 1.

"I think it does bring out the best in us," Merritt said about his rivalry with James. "Before the competition, just mentally getting ready, knowing that right now we're the two fastest quarter-milers in the world. We definitely have to bring our A game. Tomorrow, it should be something special."

Merritt won the Olympic gold in 2008 and the world title in 2009 before completing in 2011 a 21-month suspension for failing a doping test.

The women's high jump will also be competitive, as it features Olympic champion Anna Chicherova of Russia, Olympic runner-up Brigetta Barrett of the US, and two-time world champion Blanka Vlasic of Croatia.

The men's 110 hurdles is wide open since neither Olympic champion Aries Merritt nor 2008 Olympic champ Dayron Robles have put up great times. American hurdlers Ryan Wilson, David Oliver and world champ Jason Richardson will be legitimate contenders.

In the women's 100, American rising star English Gardner will measure herself against two-time Olympic champ Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica and Kelly-Ann Baptiste of Trinidad and Tobago, the season leader with a time of 10.83.



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