Piqued by suggestions of a possible decline, Usain Bolt responded with a blistering season debut at 200 metres and a new track record at the Bislett Games in Oslo yesterday.
"I'm not in as bad shape as I thought I was," Bolt said after his emphatic victory at the IAAF Diamond League meet.
Bolt, whose condition was questioned after losing the 100 metres by one hundredth of a second in Rome the week before, finished in 19.79 seconds. He is the only one to break 20 seconds this season.
"Overall, it was a good run, I can't complain. It's sub 20," said the Jamaican, who holds the world record at the distance in 19.19. "I could have done better. I think I need to work on my corners but otherwise it was a good race."
Bolt topped the Bislett record set by Frank Fredericks of Namibia in 1996 by three hundredths of a second.
I'll be happy
"At the end of the day, it's not about time. It's about winning. Because if I run 20 flat at the World Championships and I win, I'll be happy," Bolt said.
After losing to Justin Gatlin of the US in Rome, Bolt was unfazed by a false start by European 200 champion Churandy Martina of the Netherlands. Martina was disqualified and Bolt powered on, finishing strongly in lane six and leaving the crowd on its feet.
"It's always good to have someone directly in front of you," said Bolt of Martina, who had been in lane seven. "It helps to push you harder to get past them on the corner. But you have to learn. This is always good, a learning curve. If it happens in the World championships, then it's already happened here so you know how to deal with it."
Bolt was disqualified for a false start in the 100m at the 2011 world championships in South Korea.
"I know how it feels, it's not a good feeling," he laughed.
"Now back to Jamaica to prepare for the worlds (in August). My goals remain the same, to be the best in the world and to win three gold medals in Moscow."
Ivet Lalova of Bulgaria edged Murielle Ahoure of Ivory Coast by one hundredth of a second to win the 100 metres in 11.04 seconds. Both clocked season's bests. Jamaica's Sher-Ann Brooks was seventh in 11.34.
Another Jamaican, Kimberley Williams, was fifth in the women's triple jump. Williams had a best of 13.98m in the event won by Colombia's Caterine Ibarguen with 14.81m.