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Usain Bolt delivers 200m belter in Paris

Jamaican sprint sensation Usain Bolt raced to a world-leading time of 19.73 seconds in the 200m at the Diamond League meet in Paris on Saturday.

Usain Bolt delivers 200m belter in Paris
Usain Bolt wins the 200 metres in Paris. Photo: Bertrand Guay/AFP

It was the 26-year-old's second outing over his favoured event this season after clocking 19.79sec at Oslo on June 13th.

In the meantime, American rival Tyson Gay had raced 19.74sec in winning the US championships in Des Moines last month.

But Bolt fired another raking broadside Stateside with an emphatic victory in scorching style just one month out from the August 10-18 World Athletics Championships in Moscow.

"That's good, I'm happy with myself," said Bolt, the world record holder in both sprint events, and six-time Olympic gold medallist and five-time world champion.

"I love Paris, I always feel wonderful here, it's a great crowd."

But he said it was not all perfect.

"I'm getting there. I still need to work on a few mistakes, and my coach (Glen Mills) will determine on what exactly it will be."

Wearing a blue and gold peppered sleeveless shirt, black shorts, and white and blue shoes, Bolt looked as if he meant business at the Stade de France.

Unlike his experience in the Norwegian capital, he and the 50,000 spectators packed into the stadium north of Paris enjoyed balmy conditions, with temperatures around 27 degrees Celsius (81F).

After an average start reaction time, Bolt exploded into the corner and was up on compatriot Warren Weir in lane seven within 10 paces.

As he rounded the bend, Weir looked like he would resume parity, but teeth clenched and at full tilt, Bolt destroyed the field in the final 40 metres to set a new meeting record, the previous best of 20.01sec set by US track legend Michael Johnson in 1990.

Olympic bronze medallist Weir claimed second place in 19.92sec, with France's Christophe Lemaitre finishing third in a season's best of 20.07.

In the build-up to the race, Bolt was introduced to a raucous crowd sitting through the open top of a 2CV, the iconic French Peugeot car.

When he made his entrance onto the track, the noise levels went up a notch and, ever the actor, Bolt delighted in playing up to the television cameras, preening his eyebrows and hair before doing his trademark bow-and-arrow pose.

Come race time and there was no nonsense from Bolt, an awesome bend followed by the afterburners in his drive phase to ensure a comfortable win in his favoured event.

Gay will take note of his rival's performance but it is tough not to imagine Bolt adding to the five gold medals he garnered in the last two world championships come Moscow.

"All is building up towards a great world championships, you will see a big show there, it will be the climax," warned Bolt.

"And I want to be ready for that."

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READER INSIGHTS

‘Painful’ – is Paris Charles de Gaulle airport really that bad?

Following a survey that said Paris Charles de Gaulle airport was the best in Europe, we asked Local readers what they thought...

'Painful' - is Paris Charles de Gaulle airport really that bad?

Recently, Paris Charles de Gaulle was voted the best airport in Europe by passengers.

The 2022 World Airport Awards, based on customer satisfaction surveys between September 2021 and May 2022, listed the best airport on the planet as Doha, while Paris’s main airport came in at number 6 – the highest entry for a European airport – one place above Munich. 

READ ALSO Paris Charles de Gaulle voted best airport in Europe by passengers

Given CDG’s long-standing reputation doesn’t quite match what the World Airport Awards survey said – in 2009 it was rated the second-worst airport in the world, while in 2011 US site CNN judged it “the most hated airport in the world” – we wondered how accurate the survey could be.

So we asked readers of The Local for their opinion on their experience of Europe’s ‘best’ airport. 

Contrary to the World Airport Awards study, users erred towards the negative about the airport. A total 30.8 percent of Local readers – who had travelled through the airport in recent months – thought it was ‘terrible’, while another 33.3 percent agreed that it was ‘not great’ and had ‘some problems’.

But in total 12.8 percent of those who responded to our survey thought the airport was ‘brilliant’, and another 23.1 percent thought it ‘fine’, with ‘no major problems’.

So what are the problems with it?

Signage 

One respondent asked a simple – and obvious – question: “Why are there so many terminal twos?”

Barney Lehrer added: “They should change the terminal number system.”

In fact, signage and directions – not to mention the sheer size of the place – were common complaints, as were onward travel options. 

Christine Charaudeau told us: “The signage is terrible. I’ve often followed signs that led to nowhere. Thankfully, I speak French and am familiar with the airport but for first time travellers … yikes!”

Edwin Walley added that it was, “impossible to get from point A to point B,”  as he described the logistics at the airport as the “worst in the world”.

And James Patterson had a piece of advice taken from another airport. “The signage could be better – they could take a cue from Heathrow in that regard.”

Anthony Schofield said: “Arriving by car/taxi is painful due to congestion and the walk from the skytrain to baggage claim seems interminable.”

Border control

Border control, too, was a cause for complaint. “The wait at the frontière is shameful,” Linda, who preferred to use just her first name, told us. “I waited one and a half hours standing, with a lot of old people.”

Sharon Dubble agreed. She wrote: “The wait time to navigate passport control and customs is abysmal!”

Deborah Mur, too, bemoaned the issue of, “the long, long wait to pass border control in Terminal E, especially at 6am after an overnight flight.”

Beth Van Hulst, meanwhile, pulled no punches with her estimation of border staff and the airport in general. “[It] takes forever to go through immigration, and staff deserve their grumpy reputation. Also, queuing is very unclear and people get blocked because the airport layout is not well designed.”

Jeff VanderWolk highlighted the, “inadequate staffing of immigration counters and security checkpoints”, while Karel Prinsloo had no time for the brusque attitudes among security and border personnel. “Officers at customs are so rude. I once confronted the commander about their terrible behaviour.  His response said it all: ‘We are not here to be nice’. Also the security personnel.”

Connections

One of the most-complained-about aspects is one that is not actually within the airport’s control – public transport connections.  

Mahesh Chaturvedula was just one of those to wonder about integrated travel systems in France, noting problems with the reliability of onward RER rail services, and access to the RER network from the terminal.

The airport is connected to the city via RER B, one of the capital’s notoriously slow and crowded suburban trains. Although there are plans to create a new high-speed service to the airport, this now won’t begin until after the 2024 Olympics.

Sekhar also called for, “more frequent trains from SNCF to different cities across France with respect to the international flight schedules.”

The good news

But it wasn’t all bad news for the airport, 35 percent of survey respondents said the airport had more positives than negatives, while a Twitter poll of local readers came out in favour of Charles de Gaulle.

Conceding that the airport is “too spread out”, Jim Lockard said it, “generally operates well; [and has] decent amenities for food and shopping”.

Declan Murphy was one of a number of respondents to praise the, “good services and hotels in terminals”, while Dean Millar – who last passed through Charles de Gaulle in October – said the, “signage is very good. [It is] easy to find my way around”.

He added: “Considering the size (very large) [of the airport] it is very well done.  So no complaints at all.”

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