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Tokyo Olympics: Is Usain Bolt 100m record under threat?


Image Source : GETTY IMAGES

File photo of Usain Bolt.

That “Lightning Bolt” gesture will not be on show at the Tokyo Olympics after mesmerising the world for three successive Games and leaving a legacy which won’t be forgotten — at least till the world record is not broken.

Bolt fed on the energy of the spectators, who filled the stadia around the world to watch the gesture that had its origin in a Jamaican dancehall move popular in mid-2000s, to blaze a trail of success on the track. It resulted in him resetting the world record thrice in the span of less than 15 months between 2008 and 2009.

One of those records came at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games where he stamped Jamaica’s authority, eclipsing his then timing of 9:72 seconds by clocking 9:69. But exactly a year later, at the 2009 IAAF World Championships in Berlin’s Olympic Stadium on August 16, Bolt set the current 100m world record, clocking a mind-blowing 9.58 seconds.

It’s been 12 years since the world epitomised the moment. And, it likely the day will continue to be remembered for a few more decades, given that no sprinter competing at the Tokyo Olympics looks threatening enough to upend Bolt’s record.

While it would be safe to say that Bolt’s record will weather the Tokyo test, the retired sprinter would be unhappy if anyone else other than a Jamaican wins the gold at the Olympics. With Bolt dominating the event for nearly a decade, it would be one big jolt for him to see someone else staking claim to the legacy.

If it was countryman Asafa Powell who passed on the 100m legacy to Bolt, a successor to Bolt from his native country is nowhere in sight.

Yohan Blake’s best of 9:95 seconds this season is not among the top-10 timings in the world, while Tyquendo Tracey’s best in competition this season has been 10:00 sec. The third member of the 100m Jamaican squad, Oblique Sevill, has a best of 10:04 this season.

Recently, during an Instagram Live with @Olympics, Bolt had predicted that the 100m Olympics final would be fast but not at a world record pace.

Asked if he thought his famous world record would remain intact during the Tokyo Olympics, Bolt said, “I’m very confident. I’m not saying it’s not going to happen. But I don’t think the crop I’m watching; I don’t think they’re there at a level (to run times of) 9.58s or 19.19s (200m). So, we’ll see what happens.”

Part of Bolt’s confidence stems from the fact that the Olympics will be held without spectators, the lifeblood of athletes on a mission to set records on the grandest sporting stage. Besides, none of the current lot has come anywhere close to his record so far this season.

The best a sprinter has clocked this season is 9:77 seconds, by American 26-year-old Trayvon Bromell in June this year. With Bromell showing a marked improvement in his timing since 2020 when his best was a 9:90, the American is being touted as the next Olympic champion.

In fact, Bolt too feels the American has the pedigree to go the distance. “He’s (Bromell) really stepped up and shows that he’s ready and he’s is fit. As long as he stays good, he should be on top.” But Bolt warns that the 100m is a “notoriously brutal race” with tiny margins marking the difference.

“Mentally, it’s tough on you and making one mistake [in the] 100m finals. It can be (your) downfall. So, let’s see what happens.”

Among the other contenders to Bolt’s Olympic legacy could be American Ronnie Baker (best this season 9:85), Fred Kerley (9:86), South Africa’s Akani Simbine (9:84) and Canada’s Andre de Grasse (9:99), among others.

But none is likely to blaze a trail like Usain, and celebrate his victory like Lightning Bolt.





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