By Philip Hersh | Tribune Olympic Bureau
BEIJING - It sounds so simple.
The Big Man hambones the final 20 meters in Saturday's Olympic 100-meter final and still covers the distance in 9.69 seconds, breaking the world record he set earlier this season.
The Big Man began running the 100 only this year and has much more experience in -- and a greater passion for -- the 200.
So the Big Man will take down the record in the long sprint, the 19.32 that remains otherworldly 12 years after Michael Johnson set it in the 1996 Olympic final. No one has come within three-tenths of a second since.
After all, no less an expert than Johnson said two months ago, "I'm ready to kiss the record goodbye, if he keeps on doing what he has been doing.''
Jamaica's Usain Bolt has done more than that since getting Johnson's attention May 31 with his first 100 world record of 9.72 seconds. He has run the fifth fastest time ever in the 200, a 19.67, and the three leading 200 times of this season.
"I used to think 19.32 was untouchable; now I think it is touchable,'' said Debbie Ferguson McKenzie of the Bahamas, Olympic 200 bronze medalist in 2004.
"He has it in his legs,'' said Marie-Jose Perec of France, Olympic 200 champion in 1996.
I wouldn't put anything past him right now,'' said Wallace Spearmon, two-time world medalist in the 200, who will be running against Bolt in Wednesday night's final.
And what did the Big Man think about this after running the fastest time, 20.09 of Tuesday's semifinalists?
Bolt is just plain tired with one race left in the first major meet where he will have run eight sprint races, even if he has not pushed from start to finish in the first seven.
"I'm going out there and run my heart out and anything that comes, comes, but right now it's kind of hard,'' Bolt said. "I've been through four rounds of the 100 and three of the 200, so it's kind of hard to go out there and get the record that's been so far away.''
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