Usain Bolt edged ever nearer to the legendary status he craves after cruising into the 200 metres final with contemptuous ease at London 2012.

Team-mate Yohan Blake was the fastest qualifier after also slowing down markedly in winning the opening semi-final in 20.01secs, but Bolt has no doubts he will put his training partner in his place once again on Thursday.

"No doubt whatsoever," Bolt said. "I'm ready, this is my favourite event, so I'm looking forward to it."

While many would already consider the Jamaican superstar a legend for winning triple gold in Beijing and defending his 100m title here on Sunday, Bolt himself insists he also has to retain his 200m title.

And the 25-year-old looks an increasingly certain bet to do just that, effectively winning his semi-final before halfway and almost jogging down the home straight to win in 20.18 seconds.

Meanwhile, Britain's Lisa Dobriskey and Laura Weightman reaching the final of the 1500m as world silver medallist Hannah England missed out.

The first gold medal of the evening went to Russia's Natalya Antyukh in the 400m hurdles, the 31-year-old just holding off America's Lashinda Demus at the finish. Antyukh recorded a personal best of 52.70s to finish just 0.06 outside the Olympic record held by 2008 champion Melaine Walker, with Demus setting a season's best of 52.77.

After having to settle for silver in the last two Games, American Allyson Felix finally got her hands on a gold medal with a brilliant run in the 200m final. Felix, runner-up in Athens and Beijing to Jamaica's Veronica Campbell-Brown, overcame a sluggish start to lead coming off the bend and was never going to be caught, clocking a time of 21.88s to finish 0.21s ahead of 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.

Brittney Reese then made it three gold medals from four events this evening for the United States, taking victory in the women's long jump. Reese managed just two legal jumps from six attempts, but the first of those permitted efforts was 7.12m in the second round and proved enough to win after Russia's Elena Sokolova was unable to improve on her best of 7.07m, also achieved in the second round.

Meanwhile, world record holder Ashton Eaton enjoys a 220-point lead over team-mate Trey Hardee after the first day of the gruelling decathlon.