The surprise at last night's 2013 ExxonMobil Bislett Games in Oslo, Norway, wasn’t that Usain Bolt triumphed in his first 200-meter race of the season.
It wasn’t the strongest of fields, and the Jamaican world record-holder’s only real challenger, Churandy Martina of the Netherlands, was disqualified for a false start.
What did raise a few eyebrows, however, was that Bolt finished in a time of 19.79, becoming the first runner this year to break 20 seconds. He also set a Bislett Games track record, besting Namibian Frank Fredericks’ 1996 mark by three-hundredths of a second.
“Overall, it was a good run; I can’t complain. It’s sub-20,” Bolt said afterward, according to USA Today. “I could have done better. I think I need to work on my corners, but otherwise it was a good race.”
Trailing the 26-year-old six-time Olympic gold medalist were Norway’s Saidy Ndure (second, 20.36) and Britain’s James Ellington (third, 20.55).
Bolt’s Oslo win is perhaps the first bright spot in a season that had gotten off to a disappointing start. On May 8, making his 2013 debut at the Cayman Invitational in Georgetown, Bolt ran 100 meters in 10.09 seconds. It was fast enough to win, but only in a photo finish with countryman Kemar Bailey Cole. The time was Bolt’s slowest season opener in four years.
Last week, in the Rome Golden Gala, Bolt lost by a hundredth of a second to American Justin Gatlin, posting a time of 9.95.
“I guess I just have to do more strength work,” Bolt said after that race, according to LetsRun.com. “I think it’s just time to get it back together. Each season goes back to ground zero.”
Bolt made a similar pledge after the Bislett Games, suggesting he’s got room to improve before August’s IAAF World Championships in Moscow.
“I promised to come out here and run as fast as I could and that’s what I did,” he said, according to the Guardian. “All I’ve got to do now is go home and work on everything and hopefully go even faster.”