Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin set up another showdown, medal standings leader Kenya earned two more gold medals and a South African won the 400m in the sixth fastest time ever and then was taken off the track on a stretcher at the World Championships on Wednesday.
The U.S. won three medals Wednesday, but no golds, giving it one gold and nine total medals through five of nine days.
Kenya leads the medal standings with six golds and 11 total, including a men’s javelin gold Wednesday, its first ever Olympic or Worlds field event medal.
The U.S. will hope to gain and surpass Kenya in the final four days, but the biggest storyline Thursday will be another Bolt-Gatlin showdown in the 200m final. It comes 10 years after their first race together in the 2005 Worlds 200m final.
Bolt, the reigning two-time Olympic and three-time World champion, won his 200m semifinal in 19.95 seconds, appearing to spend time during his race looking up at a stadium video screen and, briefly, across to the second-place finisher.
That’s the first time the Jamaican has gone sub-20 in an Olympic or Worlds 200m semifinal and his first sub-20 since he won the 2013 World Championships in 19.66.
“A bit tired,” Bolt said on the BBC, repeating what he said after the first round Tuesday.
How much is left in the tank?
“I don’t know until we see tomorrow,” he said. “My 200m is my best event. I live for this. … I know I’m going to do well. It’s not even a question. … I’m not going to lose my favorite event.”
A few minutes earlier, Gatlin clocked 19.87, the fastest time of all the semifinalists. Gatlin came into Worlds having clocked 19.57, 19.68, 19.68 and 19.71 since the start of 2014, the four fastest times in the world in that span.
On Sunday, Bolt beat Gatlin by .01 in the 100m final in a time slower than Gatlin’s semifinal clocking earlier that night. Gatlin struggled to keep his form in the last several meters of the final, costing him gold.
Is Gatlin, after tearing up following the 100m final, ready to face Bolt again?
“Of course, ready for a matchup with anybody,” Gatlin told Lewis Johnson on Universal Sports.
Thursday’s final will not include Olympic bronze medalist and 2013 Worlds silver medalist Warren Weir, who failed to advance out of the semifinals.
Later Wednesday, South African Wayde van Niekerk won the 400m in 43.48 seconds, a time that would have beaten Michael Johnson at the 1996 Olympics. Johnson set the world record of 43.18 on this date 16 years ago.