OSLO, Norway,June 8 – Usain Bolt, the double world and Olympic sprint champion, makes his Norwegian bow at Thursday's Bislett Games, appearing in a 200m for the first time this season.
The 24-year-old Jamaican, who set a world record time of 19.19 seconds when winning the 200m at the 2009 worlds in Berlin, has enjoyed a successful run over 100m so far this year.
He won the Rome leg of the Diamond League (9.93sec) and the Golden Spike meet in Ostrava (9.91), notably beating in-form compatriot Steve Mullings in the process.
"I’m here for the first time. I don’t know a lot about this country," Bolt said on touching down in Oslo ahead of Thursday’s meet.
"I’ve heard that the track is very fast in Oslo, but I do not know it. Until now, I’ve never run here."
"I will give 100 percent. The 200m is my race," added the Jamaican, who on paper has little competition to worry about.
Bolt acknowledged that his aim this year was defending his world titles in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m at the August 27-September 4 World Athletics Championships in Daegu, South Korea, admitting that results up until then also did not count for much.
"I’m focused on the worlds, it doesn’t matter if I lose all other events before that competition," he said, adding: "I’m still showman and not serious."
Bolt said he was not concerned by forecasts of overcast weather conditions and possibly rainy on Thursday.
"I’m not worried about the rain," he said. "I did some good races in adverse weather conditions."
The meet also features a high-class field in the women’s 800m, world champion Caster Semenya of South Africa, back in competition after a controversy over her gender, facing a tough outing.
The two-lap event’s field includes former world champion and Olympic silver medallist Janeth Jepkosgei of Kenya, world indoor and European outdoor champion Mariya Savinova of Russia and Britain’s Jenny Meadows, who won world championship bronze behind Semenya and Jepkosgei in 2009.
"It wasn’t easy to come back after the IAAF ban, but this was the goal," Semenya admitted, speaking of her 11-month suspension while tests were carried out on her gender.
The race on Thursday will be Semenya’s third of the season: she won an IAAF Challenge event in Dakar and then finished second at the Diamond League race in Eugene, Oregon, on Saturday.
"In Oslo, I want to remain below 1:58, maybe 1:57, but everything happens with an eye on the World Championships in South Korea," said Semenya, who clocked 1:58.88 in Eugene, which made her second fastest in the world this year.
"At the Bislett Games, the time is very important, probably more important than first place."
Other events include the men’s "Dream Mile" featuring a host of top-notch African runners.
Women will compete in the 100m, 400m, 1500m, 5000m, 400m hurdles, triple jump, pole vault and shot put.
The men’s events include the discus, high jump, long jump, 3000m steeplechase, javelin and 110m hurdles.