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Bolt out to rebound from Rome blues

BOLTOSLO, June 12 – Jamaican sprint star Usain Bolt is aiming to become the first male athlete to dip under 20 seconds for the 200m this season when he takes to the track in Thursday’s Bislett Games.

After being beaten last week at the Rome leg of the 14-meet Diamond League, Bolt is keen to bounce back with a victory before heading home for his national trials ahead of the August 10-18 World Athletics Championships.

The surprise defeat in the Italian capital by American Justin Gatlin was a mere blip that meant nothing in the long term, Bolt said, referring to similar rare losses he suffered before clinching three gold medals at both the Beijing and London Olympics.

“Running a sub-20sec is definitely on my mind. My training’s been pretty good. I’m feeling wonderful,” said Bolt, who had complained of a tightened hamstring in Rome.

Bolt holds the record of the fastest 100m in Oslo (9.79sec in 2012) but the quickest 200m on record at the Bislett Stadium belongs to Namibia’s Frankie Fredericks, clocked at 19.82sec way back in 1996.

“It’s all about execution and getting it right. As long as I execute right, I think I’ll get a fast time.”

The Jamaican said he had not overly dwelled on his Rome outing.

“I watched it once. My coach (Glen Mills) is back at home and he analysed it. I called him and he said the start was good and I was over-striding a little bit,” he said.

“We’ll analyse it more and when I get home we’ll sit and talk about it and discuss about what we need to worry about.”

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Bolt faces considerably less classy competition in the 200m than in the Rome 100m, with Dutchman Churandy Martina (19.85sec), Norwegian Jaysuma Saidy Ndure (19.89) and American Curtis Mitchell (19.99) the only other three competitors to have dipped under 20sec in their careers.

Other top draws at the Bislett Stadium includes a stellar field in the women’s high jump, where two-time former world champion Blanka Vlasic continues her comeback from a nine-month injury lay-off against current world and Olympic champion Anna Chicherova of Russia.

“I get very emotional before every competition, very nervous. But I’m still very excited. It feels like the start of my career,” said Vlasic, chasing a fifth victory in her ninth appearance at the Bislett Games.

“It (the heel) is getting better. It should be okay (for the worlds).

“In training the most important thing was to do 20-25 jumps per session. There was no focus on the heights.

“After eight or nine months with no jumping, I really need those jump attempts at bigger heights, to get the technique in balance.”

Chicherova said she was motivated by the thought of battling for world gold on home soil.

“It is something inspiring, to make you want to be at your best,” she said.

“Up until the world championships, Oslo and the other meets are opportunities to improve your condition, master emotions and prepare for the fight in Moscow!”

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Organisers have also assembled what they dubbed the best men’s steeple field ever, based around a solid Kenyan contingent.

Former Olympic and world champion Brimin Kipruto, former world youth champion Abel Mutai and London Olympics bronze medallist and world leader Conseslus Kipruto will lead the charge for a time under the magical 8min mark.

One major absentee from the meet will be Britain’s heptathlon Olympic champion Jessica Ennis-Hill, who failed to recover fully from an Achilles injury.

The 27-year-old also sat out a meeting in Edinburgh the week before, something she acknowledges is not good just two months out of the outdoor world championships in Moscow.

“I am so frustrated as I want to get out there and start my season, but am being advised to look longer term and focus on a plan that enables me to be in the best shape for the World Championships in Moscow in August,” she said.

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