LONDON – The weather gods have smiled on Usain Bolt's bid to retain his Olympic 200-meters title and break the world record on Thursday.
Bolt is a huge favorite to claim another gold medal after triumphing in the 100 meters on Sunday, but weather experts revealed that for much of Wednesday and Thursday the Olympic Stadium will be affected by swirling winds and cooler temperatures – far from ideal for Bolt's attempt to break his own 200 world mark of 19.19 seconds.
However, the weather is set to clear up just in time for the 200 final, which is scheduled for 8:55 p.m. London time on Thursday, increasing the likelihood of another blistering time for Bolt.
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"It is actually going to turn into quite a pleasant evening," said Robin Thwaytes, forecasting expert for the Met Office, the United Kingdom's official weather service.
"It is going to get a little warmer, the temperature will be up to 21 or 22 degrees (70 to 72 degrees Farenheit). There will be no wind and the clouds will have broken, so in every way it is going to be pretty much perfect conditions for a race like this. Earlier, there will be some wind, and most of the day it will be cloudy, but that is going to clear."
While there is nothing to suggest that weather conditions benefit one runner more than another, it does have an effect on the times. Bolt is known to enjoy warmer conditions, such as those in Beijing four years ago when he stunned the world with three gold medals and three remarkable world records in the 100, 200 and 4x100 relay.
Bolt has confidently predicted he will win the 200 once again, with Yohan Blake, his friend, training partner and Jamaican teammate, tipped to be his strongest challenger. The 200 semifinals will be held Wednesday night.
Former Olympic champion Michael Johnson spelled out the importance of the weather and the impact it could have on the race.
"For great times, it would definitely be good if it is a little warmer and calm conditions," Johnson told the BBC. "It just helps the athletes, and the general consensus is that it makes the track faster. You don't want a strong wind blowing into your face – remember we are talking about tiny fractions of a second when it comes to world records."
Bolt holds the current world record with the extraordinary time of 19.19 seconds, which he set with a brilliant run at the 2009 world championships in Berlin.
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- Athletics, Track & Field
- Sports & Recreation
- Usain Bolt
- world record