Our friend, Pat Butcher, has devoted his column today on the dearth of Jamaican Olympic gold medalists at 100 meters. Sure, there has been the amazing gold medal of Don Quarrie in 1976 in 200 meters ( one of the true gentleman of our sport and a superb coach), but no Jamaican has won at 100 meters. 36 hours after Usain Bolt sets a new world record, Butcher (http://
www.globerunner.org/blog/?p=39), opines on the historic opportunity.
I would like to comment on Pat's column, so read on, if you dare......
The performance on Saturday night was shocking. And it was great, great sport! The meet, up to that time had some amazing performances. Veronica Campbell-Brown had the crowd jumping up and down. The 5,000 meters for men came down to a battle to the last inches, and the women's 5,000 meters had the crowd encouraging Lauren Fleshman as she became the first non-African to break fifteen minutes this year for 5,000 meters.
But is was Bolt versus Gay. Usain Bolt, the silver medalist at 200 meters in Osaka, versus Tyson Gay, the man who speaks with his sprinting, the three time medalist at 100, 200 and the 4 x 100 meters in Osaka. Gay had noted that before the event, that Usain was a great talent. The sprinters admired each other.
Ironically, two weeks ago, Tyson told the assembled media in Carson ( I was in the group) that he was training for Eugene and Beijing. And in fact, it is all about Beijing.
The 100 meters at the Reebok GP was a classic. First a false start called on Mike Rodgers, a nice young US sprinter, who was probably nervous as heck in this packed event. Then, a call back, noted by Shawn Crawford, the 2004 Olympic champion at 200 meters, who just was not ready to roll.
The tension gets even higher. I am standing in the stands with Reebok running manager Mark Bossardet and Kevin Adams, Reebok specialty sales managers, as the race gets off. Neither Bolt nor Gay have good starts, but they do get the job done. Gay is behind after forty meters and Bolt stretches out that 1.96 meter, 6 foot five inch frame and the race was flying! Credit to Gay for not giving up and fighting all of the way, but his 9.85 time was .13 behind Bolt!
The crowd erupted! I patted a couple of Jamaican guys on the back near us and said,
"Bolt is amazing!" They smiled knowingly.
While I think that a) Usain will run faster, b) he can break the 200 meters record. I do not see him winning the titles in Beijing. In my mind, he is peaking way, way too early, but I am just a writer, and perhaps this is not even his top gear! I am amazed at his physical abilities, and at 21, he is just a newbie! Usain Bolt, the lightening bolt as they call him, is the world record holder and takes on the mantle as the Man to Beat in Beijing. He has the talent and spirit to win it all. And so do about five others.
The 100 meters in Beijing will be won in about 9.82, with several sprinters under 9.9, and that is due to the rounds, the pressure and the length of the season. Athletes who are focused on that, who know the system and understand what their bodies will come up against, will persevere and be victorious.
In my mind, Veronica Campbell-Brown is the best women sprinter at 100 meters, in the world. Veronica focuses, runs her full race, and knows that the race is not over until you get through that finish line. Her win in New York, in 10.91, over Hooker and Lee, also under 11 seconds was impressive and thought provoking. If a Jamaican is going to win the gold medal at 100 meters in Beijing, watch out for Campbell-Brown.
The other place that the US better watch out is the 4 x 100 meters. The Jamaicans, with Asafa Powell, Usain Bolt need just two good sprinters who can pass a baton and they will be dangerous-and they will. Some of the baton handling at New York this weekend was better than I have seen on US relay teams in many a year.
In the end, Butcher is right. It is high time for Jamaica to win a gold medal at 100 meters. There is just one problem-there are many, many athletes, from many, many countries who want the same thing.
And even after the WR, the race in Beijing with Bolt, Powell, Gay, Patton, etc. will be high drama and much, much different that what we saw in New York!