I’ll be the first to admit that I’m no track and field historian but the International Association of Athletics Federations World Championships men’s 100 meters finals could be the greatest championship round in the event’s history.
Five sprinters have ran under 9.87 seconds this season, NOT including the meet’s defending champion and world’s fastest man Jamaican Usain Bolt (@usainbolt), who falls in the second tier, running consecutive 9.87s in his final tune-up in July. In total, there could be 10 athletes sprinting in the 9.8 or faster to the 9.9 range. The problem — a track only has eight lanes. And of course, there can only be one gold medalist.
In the Blocks
Lanes 3,4,5 are reserved for the heat’s fastest qualifiers. Those three occupants of the lanes for the finals are obvious — Bolt who will be sandwiched between Americans Justin Gatlin (@justingatlin) and Tyson Gay (@TysonLGay). The other five finalists will be Canadian Andre De Grasse (@De6rasse), Bolt’s countrymen Asafa Powell (@officialasafa) and Nesta Carter (@IAmNestaCarter), Trinidad and Tobago’s Keston Bledman and France’s Jimmy Vicaut.
The one notable absentee will be American Trayvon Bromell (@TrayvonBromell) who ran a 9.84 this season. Bromell will make it to the semis but he’ll have to compete against a combination of two other of the finalists in that heat and I don’t think he’ll finish fast enough to advance. Bromell’s time is Rio in 2016.
The Drive phase
Back in July, Ato Boldon tweeted:
Of all of those sub-10 races, know how many individual golds Powell has won? NONE. Powell has yet shown up when the lights are on and I don’t expect for him to do anything again. So don’t be surprised if Powell finish somewhere between fourth and sixth place.
Gay is the intriguing one. This is the first season since his return from suspension that he has flashed any semblance of his old self. Not absolutely sure how much Gay has returned but a third place finish isn’t out of reach.
The wild card is De Grasse. He’s representing Canada but De Grasse competes collegiately with Southern Cal and as a Trojan, won the NCAA 100 in a wind-aided 9.75. De Grasse is still raw; some fine tuning mechanically could be the difference in finishing with or without a bronze. Expect De Grasse to be a gold medal contender in Rio.
The rest of the field is just, well, filling in the field.
At the Tape
Let’s be honest, barring some unforeseen disqualification, this championship is about #BOLTvGATLIN. Gatlin is running faster than he’s ever had as and he going into the World Championships unbeaten and quite frankly, looking unbeatable. And Bolt, well, he said he’ll be ready so all we can do is take his word for it.
I’m at my best, I’m running well. Everything is starting to come together. I’m ready to go.
Unless, or until, Bolt’s WR of 9.58 get surpassed, he will always be the G.O.A.T. But Sunday will be Gatlin’s day.
- The IAAF World Championships begin Saturday and will run through Aug. 30 from Beijing with live streaming.