Beijing - Defending champion Usain Bolt made a meal of it but recovered from a
stumbling start to reach Sunday's 100 metres final at the world
championships, setting up his Beijing showdown with in-form American
The Olympic champion and world record holder
qualified joint third fastest in 9.96 seconds after a blanket finish in
the opening semi-final, while Gatlin's 9.77 in the second was the best
of the round.
Bolt tottered around the track for a few steps after
stumbling coming out of the blocks and needed all his power in the
final 50 metres to get back on terms with Canada's Andre de Grasse, who
was also awarded a time of 9.96.
"Think I hit my foot too hard," Bolt told reporters. "I'm not sure what happened, I just stumbled.
"It doesn't matter what lane I get, it's the 100 metres but I can't do that in the final."
smiling Gatlin, who won the world title in 2005 before serving a doping
ban, gave his verdict on his comfortable victory in the second heat
with the words "easy, breezy".
American Mike Rodgers was second
fastest in 9.86, his best run of the year, while his compatriot Tyson
Gay also ran a 9.96 to reach the final.
Jamaica's former world record holder Asafa Powell progressed in 9.97.
Trayvon Bromell, France's Jimmy Vicaut and China's Su Bingtian were all
timed at 9.99 and as Su and Vicaut could still not be separated after
their times were taken to a 1 000th of a second, all three will race in a
Off the nine, Gatlin, Powell, Gay and Rodgers have all served doping bans.
The final is scheduled for 15:15 SA time.