Maurice Mitchell of the United States looks on during the Men's 200m Round 1 Heats on Day 11 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 7, 2012 in London, England.
Photographer: Stu Forster/Getty Images
Copyright Getty Images
LONDON - Raytown native Maurice Mitchell has advanced to the semifinals of the men’s 200m race and has, for now at least, avoided a head-to-head race with the world’s fastest man.
Mitchell, a graduate of Raytown South High School, won the third of seven heats Tuesday morning in London with a time of 20.54 seconds. It was the 11th-fasted time among qualifiers.
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He’ll race in the third heat of the semifinals Wednesday, while Jamaican Usain Bolt, who claimed the title of the “Fastest Man on Earth” with his second-straight Olympic gold medal in the 100m this week, will race in the second heat.
The top three finishers in each of Tuesday’s qualifying heats advanced, plus the three next-fastest runners to make the semifinal field of 24 racers.
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Bolt began the 200m action Tuesday by easily winning the first heat with a time of 20.39.
"It was good," Bolt said of his performance. "Gotta take it easy. Easy run, yeah, yeah, easy run. It's my favorite event ... It's getting pretty chilly. They said it should be ok on Thursday. We'll see. I've heard that before."
American Isiah Young, of Junction City, Kan., lined up next to Bolt in the qualifying round and finished third with a time of 20.55, advancing to Wednesday's semifinals.
"It was different. He's more experienced," the 22-year-old Young said of racing against Bolt. "He knows how to get through this round. I don't think he was all-out at all. I think he was in cruise control."
Frenchman Christophe Lemaitre won the second heat with a time of 20.34.
In the fourth heat, Bolt's Jamaican rival Yohan Blake bested the competition with a time of 20.38, 1/100th of a second faster than Bolt, who he beat in both the 100m and 200m in the 2012 Olympic trials in Jamaica.
"I'm feeling good. I've trained for this. That's why they call me 'The Beast,' " Blake said Tuesday after his race. "The track is fast. Usain is really fast, but I'm in great shape. Anything is possible."
Another Jamican, Warren Weir, won the fifth heat with a time of 20.29, 0.01 slower than the morning's fastest time, posted by Ecuador's Alex Quinonez to win Heat 6.
In the final heat, Churandy Martina, of the Netherlands, placed first with a time of 20.58. He finished second in Beijing in 2008 but was disqualified for running out of his lane.
American Wallace Spearmon, who finished third in Beijing but was also disqualified, advanced, finishing second in the sixth heat with a time of 20.47.
Spearmon said he didn't like being in Lane 2 at Olympic Stadium. "It's too tight," he said after the race. "Definitely too tight. I didn't like it. I don't want to go back there again."
Spearmon will race in Lane 7 in the first heat with first-round winners Blake and Lemaitre.
Semifinals will take place Wednesday at 2:10 p.m. CT.
Joining Mitchell in Heat 3 will be first-round winners Weir and Martina, along with Michael Mathieu (Bahamas), Brendan Christian (Antigua and Barbuda), Christian Malcom (Great Britain), Antoine Adams (Saint Kitts and Nevis) and Shinji Takahira (Japan).
Eight runners will advance to the gold medal race, slated for Thursday at 2:55 p.m. CT.
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