By Gene Cherry
DAEGU, South Korea (Reuters) - A new, slimmed-down competition schedule will have triple champion Usain Bolt running fewer races when he defends his sprint titles at the world athletics championships that begin in Daegu on Saturday.
The Jamaican, like most sprinters, will need only six races to capture gold in the 100 and 200 meters instead of the eight required in past Olympics and world championships.
"We are trying to make the program more compact, more exciting," International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) competition director Paul Hardy told Reuters.
Daegu and its Aug 27-Sept 4 championships will be the first test for the streamlined schedule. London's 2012 Games will see their Olympic introduction.
One round of the 200 meters has been shelved for all runners and only those without a qualifying mark will face four rounds of the 100.
The latter has piqued the most interest because it will reduce from four to three the number of times Bolt and other elite runners will race in the 100 meters.
The reigning champion and other top sprinters will start their 100 meters runs at 9:45 p.m. local time on Saturday instead of loping through opening rounds against much slower competitors earlier in the day.
"In the past, we have had four rounds (for everyone) in the 100 meters," Hardy said. "We are (now) having a preliminary round with all the unqualified competing against each other to progress to the next round."
The non-qualifiers gain entry because of an IAAF rule permitting each member federation to enter a male and female in one event, the majority of which enter the 100 meters.
About 34 athletes will therefore race in four preliminary heats with the best of those advancing to the next round, where elite runners will enter the competition.
So far there had been no complaints from member federations about their sprinters possibly missing out on a once-in-a-life time opportunity to be on the same track with Bolt, Hardy said.
In other changes, most qualifying rounds for the championships will be during morning sessions with evening programs limited to three hours.
"We will have one final after another basically," Hardy said.
There also will be a different ending to the nine day competition with the 4x100 meters relay, where Bolt and his team mates have drawn the awe of spectators with their world record running, now the last event on the program instead of the more traditional 4x400 meters relay.
(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)