It’s not in proper taste to brag about predictions, especially when you fashion yourself as someone who is very knowledgable about the subject matter. But, I’m going to toot my horn a little because I’m allowed to in my own space.
Sunday morning (East Coast time, Sunday night in Beijing) the International Athletics Association Federations men’s 100 meter championship was contested. Thursday, I previewed the finals (which you can again read here). I correctly predicted five of the nine finalists, that Usain Bolt will be sandwiched between both Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay and that Asafa Powell would finish between fourth and sixth place (Powell finished seventh) despite running under 10-seconds a billion times.
I also predicted that Canadian Andre De Grasse would finish third. (Or has a chance to finish third. I’ll take it.)
I was wrong that Trayvon Bromell would not make the finals (tied De Grasse for bronze), that only two Americans would be in the finals (predicted three Jamaicans would make it instead of just two) and most importantly, I predicted a Gatlin victory over Bolt.
Meh; I didn’t say that I was Nostradamus.
Bolt proved again as to why he is the G.O.A.T. In a season were Gatlin may have had pound for pound the best overall year in short sprint history, Bolt still let everyone know that when a championship is to be had, he is getting it. Bolt successfully defended his world title, out-legging Gatlin to the line in 9.79. Gatlin was second in 9.80. But the victory was Floyd Mayweather-esque.
The hype for the showdown was unlike we’ve seen in a long time in track and field (not since maybe the head-to-head Michael Johnson/Donovan Bailey fiasco which still makes me laugh to this day). Everyone, obviously me included, was guilty in promoting this race to the point where the New York Times headlined the finals as a Morality Play. Remember the build up to MayPac? The fight of the century which ended being the dud heard round the world? Bolt latest win had that feel for me.
Don’t get me wrong. The race was good. But not THE HYPE good. Is it because Gatlin lost? Nope. It was because the times were pedestrian for both men. If you consider the fact that Bolt’s world record is 9.58 and Gatlin’s fastest time this season was a 9.74, I expected a very fast final — as in 9.6-range. I expected that Gatlin would win running something in the vicinity of 9.67, with Bolt around a 9.7. In fact, the 9.79 is the slowest time in a win for Bolt in a medal contending race since before his performance in the Beijing Olympics.
The moral of the lesson is twofold: Bolt is the greatest sprint champion the likes we’ll never see again and the hype we build, is almost, always, overrated.
See #BOLTvGATLIN, 2015 IAAF World Championship 100M Final below