The men’s 100m has always been the most glamorous event in track and field. Whether you re competing or watching, everyone wants to be a part of the final of this massive event. The awe around this perhaps has grown significantly over the last 7 or so years with the rise of Usain Bolt at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
In the Birds Nest Stadium – the very same place this years World Championships returns to – Usain Bolt lit up the Olympics, marking himself as the greatest sprinter of all time. Here, he ran world records in the 100m (9.69), 200m (19.30) and the 4x100m (37.10) winning gold in all three, all in the same year where he had previously set the 100m world record at 9.72.
On the very same day a year after Bolt had broken the world record in the 100m, he did the very same thing running 9.58 in Berlin in 2009. This world record still stands today with Bolt himself being the only person to have run near to this time since when he won gold for a second time at the 2012 London Olympics in 9.63 seconds. Along with 100m gold, he retained his 200m and 4x100m golds at London, confirming himself as a legend.
Bolt, very much like Gatlin, has been in and out of the sport due to a series of injuries. He missed the majority of the 2014 season through a hamstring issue, and still has been struggling with some niggles throughout the 2015 season causing him to miss the Paris and Lausanne Diamond League events.
Unlike Bolt suffering injuries and missing races, Gatlin missed out considerable time periods due to doping bans. He has suffered these twice, both being controversial as he denies both charges; first in 2001 for two years and again in 2006 for four years, having his 9.77 world record scrapped.
Despite both athletes having their problems, both are lining up against each other at this years world championships. Without doubt, Gatlin is the favourite for gold. He is the world leader over both the 100m and 200m where he has been undefeated all year. Bolt on the other hand has had a much tougher season, only running three 100m races, being ranked 62nd (10.12) in the world before running 9.87 twice at the Anniversary Games, announcing his intent to win gold again.
As for Gatlin, he has had the perfect build up for the championships, comfortably winning all of his races of the year. Other than his Olympic winning year in 2004, this is the best form he has ever showed, despite his age. This is also being shown by the fact that he is going into the competition as the world leader in the 100m having run a time of 9.74 seconds at the Doha Diamond League at the beginning of the season. However, as we all know, the form book is hardly ever followed when it comes to the main championships.
Fastest times this year:
- Justin Gatlin – 9.74
- Asafa Powell – 9.81
- Trayvon Bromell – 9.84
- Keston Bledman – 9.86
- Jimmy Vicaut – 9.86
- Tyson Gay – 9.87
- Usain Bolt – 9.87
It is very significant to look back at the way in which Bolt has progressed from his races throughout the seasons and then the times he runs at the finals of the championships. This was evidently shown in 2009 where he ran a huge 0.20 seconds faster than his seasons best in the final of the World Championships to take the world record. This is something which we should certainly not discount him from being capable of once more this year as himself and Glen Mills always work it out for the championships.
For me, the fact that Usain Bolt always seems to get it together for the championships is a major factor to never doubt him. I remember back to the 2009 Championships where there was some doubt over whether he would be back in the same shape that he was in the Olympics the previous year and Steve Cram saying ‘why did we ever, ever doubt him.’
This would well be the case, Usain Bolt has always been unstoppable and after his 9,87 run in London where he eased up into a -1.2 headwind was a great indication that he will be ready. For Gatlin on the other hand, other than Bolt’s history, he has nothing to lose. He is going in as the definite favourite with he bookies and has shown all year that he is number one.
I think Bolt will come through victorious in the end, once more winning all three golds up for grabs but it is sure to be close. We will find the answer on the 23rd August for the 100m and 27th August for the 200m where both athletes will be competing in the Bird’s Nest Stadium.