Bolt glides into 200 semis; Perkovic, Taylor defend golds
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Some people, like Usain Bolt, make everything look easy. Others, like Sandra Perkovic and Christian Taylor, insist on the tough road.
Perkovic escaped early elimination twice in as many days before producing clutch, last-ditch throws to win the women's discus.
Taylor fundamentally changed his triple jump technique — changing his lead-off foot — and it paid off.
Both Perkovic and Taylor successfully defended their titles from London 2012.
Bolt is doing even better, seeking a third consecutive 200-meter title at the Summer Games. He's already won the 100 three times.
He cruised through yet another Olympic heat, coming off the blocks fast and in front going into the straight of his opening 200-meter heat.
His full stride going full flow, Bolt could start looking around for opposition. No surprise, he was all alone. He turned the power off and coasted across the line in 20.28 seconds. "It's the heats, bro," he said. The same went for his biggest rival, Justin Gatlin, who also qualified for Wednesday's semifinals.
Bolt's immediate aim is a third Olympic sprint double in the 100 and 200. A triple-triple is still alive, with the Jamaicans favored to win the 4x100 relay on Friday night.
He said it was no sweat in the 200, but that wasn't entirely the case in the warm midday sun.
"The morning session, I'm not an early morning person," Bolt said. "I came out here to qualify and that's what I did."
Finals in the night session include the men's 110-meter hurdles and high jump, and the women's 1,500.
Compared with the cool and hassle-free Bolt, Perkovic seemingly needs to live life on the edge.
Not once, but twice in as many days, Perkovic stared early elimination in the face. Each time she had the response.
With only the top eight going through after three throws in the final, Perkovic was in real trouble after hitting the protective netting on her first two attempts. She was so frustrated, she jumped up and down in the circle.
"I was angry with myself after first throws. I said: 'Sandra, now or never'," Perkovic said. On her third attempt, she had the discus throw of these Olympics with 69.21 meters. All her other five attempts were fouls. In Monday's rainy qualifying, her plight was identical when she threw her only legal mark in her last attempt.
Melina Robert-Michon was just as happy with her French record of 66.73 for silver. World champion Denia Caballero of Cuba took bronze.
In an amazing turnaround with the same golden result, Taylor now starts his triple jump with a right-foot hop in what is a major change to his whole routine since he won gold in London. The pains and aches eased and the results stayed exemplary.
On Tuesday, he and Will Claye again swept gold and silver for the United States at back-to-back Olympics. Taylor had a world-leading mark of 17.86 on his first attempt. He posted the three best jumps of the competition.
"I never thought on my first jump that would be the gold medal jump. I stayed sharp and stayed ready," he said.
Claye finished with silver again with a personal record of 17.76 and went straight up in the stands to propose to his girlfriend, American sprinter Queen Harrison. She accepted.