Hession powers his way into semi-finals


Olympics - Athletics: After a morning of crushing disappointment for the Irish at the Bird's Nest stadium, Athenry sprinter Paul Hession provided the silver lining with an excellent performance in the 200 metres. Hession won his second round heat a blistering time of 20.32 seconds to comfortably reach the semi-finals.

The Athenry flyer, who had placed third in this morning's first round, was just 0.02 seconds outside his Irish record as he held off America's Wallace Spearmon to guarantee his place among the elite of world sprinting.

Drawn in lane seven, Hession's frayed nerves won't have been helped by a false start in the fourth and last quarter-final. With a second misdemeanour earning the offender automatic disqualification, Hession could have been forgiven a tentative start.

Instead, the 25-year-old got smoothly away from the blocks and was on Spearmon's shoulder as the leaders entered the home straight. With only the top three from each race qualifying for tomorrow's semi-finals Hession could not afford to ease up and, incredibly, a scorching finish swept him into the lead as he booked his place in style.

"I got this one right. My mind is buzzing right now but I have to keep it under control," said Hession.

"I'll be getting a lane in the middle for the semi-final, getting to mix it with the big boys and I feel that I'm ready. It was a big achievement for me to beat Spearmon and that also helps my confidence."

Hession has avoided the fastest man on the planet, Usain Bolt, in the next stage but will have his work cut out to reach the final. Five of the nine athletes he will face have run faster than him this year with just the top four advancing to the showpiece.

Bolt, meanwhile, negotiated the next step in his bid to win both Olympic sprints when he strolled through his quarter-final.

Bolt, who coasted to 20.64 seconds in his morning heat, was marginally faster at 20.29 in the second round but he was in cruise mode for the last 70 metres in both races.

"I just want to go out there and leave it all on the track and just hope for the best," the 100 metres champion, the fifth-fastest qualifier, told reporters.

"After the 100 I had little time for celebration, all I have done is a big sleep and some relaxation.

"It was not all that easy today but I'm going to go out there all the time do my thing and show the world that I'm probably the best."

Things did not go so well for Jamaican compatriot Marvin Anderson, however, who pulled up injured in his heat.

The US duo of defending champion Shawn Crawford and 100 metres bronze medallist Walter Dix also went through comfortably.

"It felt a lot better than this morning, there are no problems," Crawford said.

Zimbabwe's Brian Dzingai again looked impressive as the fasted qualifier in 20.23.

Men's 200m quarter-final results overview:
1.  Brian Dzingai (Zimbabwe)                  20.23 seconds Q
2.  Brendan Christian (Antigua and Barbuda)   20.26 Q
3.  Walter Dix (U.S.)                         20.27 Q
4.  Christopher Williams (Jamaica)            20.28 Q
5.  Usain Bolt (Jamaica)                      20.29 Q
6.  Christian Malcolm (Britain)               20.30 Q
7.  Paul Hession (Ireland)                    20.32 Q
8.  Stephan Buckland (Mauritius)              20.37 Q
9.  Wallace Spearmon (U.S.)                   20.39 Q
10. Shawn Crawford (U.S.)                     20.42 Q
10. Churandy Martina (Netherlands Antilles)   20.42 Q
12. Kim Collins (St. Kitts & Nevis)           20.43 Q
12. Marlon Devonish (Britain)                 20.43 Q
14. Jared Connaughton (Canada)                20.45 Q
14. Jaysuma Saidy Ndure (Norway)              20.45 Q
16. Kristof Beyens (Belgium)                  20.50 Q
17. Amr Seoud (Egypt)                         20.55
18. Marcin Jedrusinski (Poland)               20.58
18. Aaron Armstrong (Trinidad & Tobago)       20.58
20. Roman Smirnov (Russia)                    20.62
21. Rondell Sorrillo (Trinidad & Tobago)      20.63
21. Shinji Takahira (Japan)                   20.63
23. Obinna Metu (Nigeria)                     20.65
24. Ramil Guliyev (Azerbaijan)                20.66
25. Visa Hongisto (Finland)                   20.76
26. Rolando Palacios (Honduras)               20.87
27. Matic Osovnikar (Slovenia)                20.95
28. Angel David Rodriguez (Spain)             20.96
29. Thuso Mpuang (South Africa)               21.04
30. Sandro Viana (Brazil)                     21.07
31. Marc Schneeberger (Switzerland)           21.48
Marvin Anderson (Jamaica)                 DNF
Q = Qualified for semi-final
DNF = Did not finish