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Jamaica's 'Lightning' Bolt could match Lewis

Jamaica's yam-powered Usain 'Lightning' Bolt hopes to become the first man since Carl Lewis in 1984 to win an Olympic sprint double on Wednesday. Spl: Beijing Olympics 2008

india Updated: Aug 20, 2008 01:20 IST

Jamaica's yam-powered Usain "Lightning" Bolt hopes to become the first man since Carl Lewis in 1984 to win an Olympic sprint double on Wednesday.

The man whose father says owes his speed to the local vegetable has already won the showpiece 100 metres final in swashbuckling style, thumping his chest before the finish.

If he also carries off his preferred 200m in Beijing's Bird's Nest at 10.30 p.m. (1430 GMT) -- and nobody looks capable of beating him -- Bolt will not only equal the illustrious American.

He would also establish himself as the undisputed poster boy of the Beijing Games along with American swimmer Michael Phelps who won an unprecedented eight gold medals.

"I like to enjoy what I do," said the lanky Bolt, who breezed through his 200m semi-final late on Tuesday, playing up to TV cameras and taking a look round at competitors during the race.

"You can't be too serious in your job."

Bolt, who runs the 200m final the day before his 22nd birthday, faces a tough challenge though to beat Michael Johnson's 12-year-old world record of 19.32 seconds.

The Jamaican's best is 19.67.

Bolt's exploits have lit up his Caribbean homeland in the same way that Phelps's eight golds in Beijing, passing Mark Spitz's 1972 Munich record, have thrilled Americans.

While theirs have been the standout individual performances, it is team China's overall record that is wowing the world.

The hosts, who came second to the United States in Athens 2004, go into Day 12 of the Olympics with a commanding lead of 43 golds on top of the medal table.

China now look impossible to catch, even by traditional Olympics powerhouse the United States, who have won 26 golds in Beijing so far. China's Communist authorities are reaping the benefits of massive investment in a Soviet-style sports system.

"There is basically no worry about top spot," state news agency Xinhua said, the confident tone contrasting with official caution over China's prospects before the Aug. 8-24 Games.

British success

The Olympics have so far been a stunning success for China's leaders, pollution and political concerns fading into the background once the sporting action began.

A few small pro-free Tibet protests by foreigners have barely troubled police, and Beijing authorities have declared the city's much-decried air was the cleanest in a decade during August.

The only discordant note for the hosts, really, has been the injury to national idol and 110 metres hurdles Olympic champion Liu Xiang, who had been China's main hope for a track gold.

Britain lie a better-than-expected third in the medals table thanks, experts say, to major investment in sport that has enabled athletes to train full time and improved facilities.

The latest success came from Christine Ohuruogu, who won the women's 400 metres on Tuesday night for Britain's first athletics win in China. She only made it to Beijing after winning an appeal against an lifetime Olympics ban for missing three drugs tests.

Britain's 16 golds are its best showing since 1908 and the pefect way to fire up enthusiasm for the London 2012 Olympics.

"We have all seen what the Chinese have done. It has been fantastic," London mayor Boris Johnson said, contemplating how the global credit crunch might affect Britain's Games.

"But I am not intimidated by that. We can have a show that is equally as fantastic without wasting money."

As well as Bolt, Jamaicans are also looking to Melaine Walker to boost their gold medal tally in the women's 400 metres hurdles final on Wednesday in the Bird's Nest.

The 25-year-old has the fastest time of the year of 53.48 but she will have to watch out for American Sheena Tosta.