OSLO, Norway (AP) — Usain Bolt hopes to bounce back from a rare defeat with a convincing victory in the 200 meters at the Bislett Games on Thursday.
The Jamaican, who lost to American Justin Gatlin in the 100 in Rome last week, is aiming to be the first to break the 20-second mark this season, in his first long sprint of the year.
"I'm feeling pretty good, I think I'm in shape to run under 20 seconds. It's all about the execution and getting it right," Bolt said ahead of the Diamond League meeting.
Bolt has his sights set on Frank Fredericks' track record of 19.82, set by the Namibian in 1996, and will be pushed by local challenger Jaysuma Saidy Ndure, who is also aiming to beat 20 seconds.
"This is home for me so I have to at least try to run as fast as I can," the Gambia-born Ndure said. "This is like the world championships for me."
European 200 champion Churandy Martina of the Netherlands and Curtis Mitchell of the U.S. are also running.
Bolt said he has recovered from the hamstring injury that hampered his start to the season. He won a photo finish in 10.09 in the Cayman Islands last month — his slowest career performance in a 100-meter final.
"Now it's all about pushing myself in races to run myself into shape," Bolt said. "I'm really happy with how I'm feeling, I just need more races under my belt."
Bolt, the 100 and 200 world record-holder, isn't worried about his slight dip in form and says he's concentrating only on defending his titles at the worlds in Moscow in August.
"As long as my coach is not worried, I'm not worried, and my coach is not worried," Bolt said.
Such is the buzz generated by the Jamaican that other competitions can get overlooked. However, the women's high jump is also a highlight on Thursday.
Olympic and world champion Anna Chicherova goes head-to-head with two-time world champion Blanka Vlasic of Croatia, while local interest focuses on Tonje Angelsen, the Norwegian who is looking forward to competing against her idols.
"I've always looked up to them. I want to jump two meters as many times as they have," said Angelsen, the 2012 European silver medalist.
Chicherova, who turns 31 next month, is coming off a victory in Rome and no one has come within three centimeters of the 2.02 she jumped in Beijing last month.
"I hope to get a good height, but Rome took some strength and the weather may be a surprise, but I will do what I can," said Chicherova, who rejected suggestions that age is catching up with her.
"If you have the motivation and strength you can jump," the Russian said.
Vlasic isn't yet at full fitness after a long spell out with an Achilles injury.
"My heel is getting better. It's coming back," Vlasic said. "I'm very excited and motivated, as if it was the beginning of my career."
The Croatian is hoping to improve her modest season's best of 1.95 set in Rome.
"After nine months off from jumping and only being back in spikes since February, I need to get used to jumping big heights again," she said.
Olympic champion Meseret Defar of Ethiopia is the star attraction in the women's 5,000 meters, where she will be challenged by compatriot Genzebe Dibaba, younger sister of her greatest rival, the world record-holder Tirunesh Dibaba.
Mercy Cherono and Viola Kibiwot are providing the Kenyan challenge.
Two-time Olympic champion Andreas Thorkildsen can count on vociferous support from the home crowd in the javelin. The Norwegian faces a tough competition from Olympic champion Keshorn Walcott of Trinidad, and Finland's Tero Pitkamaki, who threw a world-leading 87.60 meters last month.
Olympic silver medalist Luguelin Santos of the Dominican Republic is the favorite in the men's 400, while Ivory Coast sprinter Murielle Ahoure is hotly tipped for the women's 100, as is Ukrainian Olha Saladukha in the women's triple jump.