Usain Bolt ran his fastest time of the year, 19.78 seconds, to win his 200m semifinal heat.
As Bolt sprinted down the straightaway, he looked to his right and appeared to say something to Andre De Grasse with a big grin on his face. De Grasse finished .02 seconds after Bolt to break the Canadian national record.
“I’m happy,” Bolt said to NBC’s Lewis Johnson. “I’m on the right track.”
Bolt already won his third consecutive Olympic 100m gold medal in Rio. Now he is racing to become the first man to win three consecutive Olympic 200m titles.
Five-time Olympic medalist Justin Gatlin failed to advance to the final. He finished third in his heat in 20.13 seconds, missing an automatic qualifying spot by .03 seconds.
Fellow U.S. sprinter LaShawn Merritt won his heat in 19.94 seconds. He has the top time, 19.74 seconds, in the world this year.
Bolt is the 200m world record holder with a time of 19.19 seconds. He was asked if he was on track to break his own record.
“It’s going to be hard,” Bolt said. “I may get a world record, but I think getting a sub-19 [seconds] is going to be hard to get, to tell you the truth.”
The 200m final is Thursday at 9:30 p.m. ET.