Beijing: Sprint king Usain Bolt will lock horns once again with arch-rival Justin Gatlin in his bid to win a fourth consecutive world 200m title on Thursday.
Bolt, also reigning double Olympic champion and world record holder over 200m, drew first blood with Gatlin, who has served two doping bans, when he pipped the American by just one-hundredth of a second in Sunday`s 100m.
But it was Gatlin who clocked the fastest time of the semi-finals at the Bird`s Nest on Wednesday in 19.87 seconds, with the lanky Jamaican second fastest in 19.95.
Bolt has the championship form, winner of an astonishing 10 of the last 11 individual Olympic and world sprint titles since shooting to fame at the 2008 Beijing Games.
"He`s a true competitor," acknowledged the 33-year-old Gatlin, who claimed a world 200m gold in the 2005 Helsinki worlds before serving a 2006-10 suspension after testing positive for testosterone.
"There are two competitors that like to compete. You`ve got to have that rivalry."
A smiling Bolt agreed: "I`ve learned over the years that I`m a great competitor."
Allegations of widespread doping rocked athletics before the world championships but Bolt`s 100m victory over a field including four former drug cheats gave the crisis-hit sport a much-needed boost.
Other finals on Thursday include the women`s hammer throw and 400m, while the men`s triple jump will also be contested.
The latter promises to be a humdinger of an event, with Christian Taylor of the United States going up against Cuban Pedro Pablo Pichardo.
Pichardo and Taylor have produced a season of jumping which has once more seen the mythical 18-metre mark attained on a regular basis.
On five occasions, in three separate competitions -- the Doha and Lausanne IAAF Diamond League meetings and Havana`s Barrientos Memorial -- the pair have exceeded 18 metres with Taylor maintaining a 3-2 edge.
Only three other jumpers -- world record holder Jonathan Edwards of Britain, American Kenny Harrison and injured Frenchman Teddy Tamgho -- have gone beyond 18 metres.
Whether anyone can upset what appears to be a duopoly at the top of the event is a moot point. What Pichardo and Taylor are aiming for is a serious tilt at Edwards` record of 18.29m, which has stood for 20 years.