With only a few weeks until the London Olympic Games begins, Britain ‘s capital is already thriving in an exciting and busy manner, with ‘2012 ‘ banners across many of London ‘s busy streets and buildings. In the 100m sprint, which many consider to be the Blue Ribbon event of the Olympic Games, or at least of Track and Field, a phenomenal prospect awaits. This year there have been an astonishing 18 men who have ducked under the formidable ten-second barrier, including three Jamaicans under 9.85 and two Americans under 9.86; simply staggering statistics. In this article, I will discuss who I believe to be favourite to win the Olympic 100m, how our British athletes will fare and whether this race will be deemed ‘the greatest 100m race of all time ‘.
Current Triple Olympic Champion Usain Bolt won this event four years ago in Beijing at a canter. I will assure you now, this will not be the case in a month ‘s time in Stratford. Of course, Bolt celebrated what seemed like 15m before the line and still ran the Olympic Record (and at the time World Record) of 9.69. This sent shock waves across the world of Athletics. Since then he has gone on to lower the World record to 9.58 and become a global super star and great ambassador for the sport. However, at the Jamaican Trials he was troubled to say the least. Youngster Yohan Blake, the current World 100m Champion – albeit perhaps by default due to Bolt ‘s disqualification – recorded a speedy World Lead of 9.75, before beating him again in the 200m later in the trials. Whilst it may seem naive to true athletics fans to rule out Usain Bolt, I personally believe that Blake has a good enough back-end to see off his compatriot in the last 30m and record a time somewhere in the low 9.6region, even in a rainy London. Maybe not the pre-race favourite, but I expect Blake to edge ahead of Bolt in what will be an exhilarating 1-2 Jamaican finish. The third athlete to qualify from Jamaica is the previous world-record holder and greatly-talented Asafa Powell. He failed to do it in 2004 with a 5th place position in the final… Fair enough. But then after continuously failing to perform at World Championship finals in 05 and 07, he finished a disappointed 5th again in Beijing and I would not be surprised if we see Powell finish 5th once more here in London.
Other medal prospects come in the form of two well-known Americans. Tyson Gay continues his resurgence to sprint-greatness running 9.86 at the US Trials and then beating the winner of that race, Justin Gatlin, in the Paris Diamond League with another sub10 second clocking. Now, although convicted drug-cheat Gatlin is the World Indoor Champion and ran a PB of 9.80 last month, Gay is getting better race by race and if fit and healthy, should not be underestimated in this race. We are talking about a man who has run 9.69, a previous world champion and someone of an incredibly competitive nature as he showed in the Berlin 2009 final when finishing 2nd to Bolt in 9.71 with a bad hamstring. Gay can run 9.7 seconds, we have seen it. I would put my money on him grabbing the bronze with Gatlin perhaps moving into the 4th spot.
Contenders for finalist positions include Keston Bledman, who has run a blistering 9.86 seconds this year, and Europe ‘s favourite lanky white kid Christophe Lemaitre, who always seems to perform well on the big stage.
Finally to talk about the three British prospects. I would like to begin this topic by stating that these three athletes made it quite simple for Charles van Commenee ‘s selection here. The World Junior Champion Adam Gemilli finished top 2 at the Trials with a 2012 ‘A ‘ Standard confirming automatic selection and James Dasaolu finished 3rd also with an ‘A ‘ Standard this year. Then comes my favourite British sprinter of all time, the brilliant Dwain Chambers, who won the trials and was rightly given a discretionary spot due to the millions of ‘A ‘ Standards Chambers has run throughout his career. Dwain performs when it matters; sadly I believe he has been made a scapegoat by athletics promoters and should have been racing Diamond League races the past few seasons, but nonetheless he has made it to the London Games, the drug-ban has been served and the life-time Olympic ban overturned. Always fantastic under pressure, he will get better every round and the fans will definitely see a season ‘s best from Dwain, who maybe has an outside chance of making the final. Dasaolu can run exceptionally fast if his body holds up and one would like to see at least a semi-final performance from him. Finally, the fearless World Junior Champion Adam Gemilli is getting better by the second. He has probably improved even in the time it has taken you to get thus far in my blog. With a 10.05 CBP in Barcelona recently, who knows the limits for this young man? I would suggest 9.9 is possible, and if so, a position in the final awaits. Exciting stuff.
And so, to conclude, my prediction of a Blake-Bolt-Gay 1-2-3 would surely put the Olympic Record, and perhaps too the World Record (9.58) in great danger. I envy any one who has tickets to watch this event live as it will truly be a moment to remember, perhaps even, the greatest 100m the world has ever seen.