Usain Bolt: 5 Things the Jamaican Invitational Tells Us About the 2012 Olympics
With so much more track and field to unfold in the coming weeks before London 2012, it almost seems foolish to draw conclusions about the Olympics at this point in time.
After all, who among us can peer into the next 12 hours, let alone the next 12 weeks? The only thing predictable is that the unpredictable will happen.
Still, we saw some things at Saturday's Jamaica International Invitational track meet that gave us some pretty good insight into what to expect at the Summer Games.
Here are five solid hooks to hang your hat on.
1. Usain Bolt Is Still the Man to Beat at 100 Meters
"Duh!" you say.
But this really isn't the no-brainer many casual fans may think.
Case in point: There have been rumors and innuendo concerning Bolt's fitness.
Some have questioned his work ethic.
In the last two years, he has not been invincible.
So, consider what happened on Saturday on a humid, breezy day—in his first 100-meter outing of 2012—after enduring two call-backs (from false starts)—with a cautious, less-than-perfect start himself:
The man only threw down a world-leading 9.82—and looked fit as a fiddle doing it.
Bolt has been proclaiming how he takes the defense of his Olympic crowns seriously.
We should take him seriously.
So, until American rival Tyson Gay shows us his cards, or Bolt's stablemate, Yohan Blake, proves his superiority in an actual head-to-head race, Usain Bolt is the man to beat at 100m in London.
2. Carmelita Jeter Is the Woman to Beat at 100 Meters
Everything we've seen from world champion Carmelita Jeter in the last two years was only confirmed in Kingston this weekend.
The second-fastest woman in history is the most dominant female 100m sprinter on the planet today (R.I.P. Flo-Jo).
Though Jeter was seriously challenged by Trinidad's Kelly-Ann Baptiste (10.86) on Saturday, she fought through a bad start, didn't panic and closed strong to pull away in 10.81, an excellent time for early May.
Winners know how to handle adversity and find a way to win—especially in the big races.
And races don't get any bigger than the Olympic finals.
3. Bershawn "Batman" Jackson Is Back...
...and that's got to be bad news for all Olympic contenders in the 400m hurdles.
With his 48.73 win in Kingston, Bershawn Jackson now owns the top three times in the world this year.
Motivated to recover from a down year in 2011, Jackson has been on fire in the early going this year.
Possibly adding fuel to that fire is a controversial dust-up with British hurdler and defending world champion Dai Greene, who made rather provocative remarks about Jackson's friend and teammate, LaShawn Merritt.
Jackson is also an able "flat" quarter-miler (45.06) and could be called to duty in the 4 x 400m relay.
If Batman does end up in the Olympic finals with Greene, we will have a textbook example of must-watch TV.
4. Sanya Richards-Ross Will Be Just Fine, Thanks
Despite a close 400m loss on Saturday night—and with all due respect to Novlene Williams-Mills, who ran a brilliant race—American record-holder Sanya Richards-Ross will not relinquish her position as favorite in London.
She's having a fantastic year and simply made a tactical error in Kingston, which is easily fixable.
Richards-Ross spent too much energy in the opening 80 meters and couldn't hold off Williams-Mills' valiant charge at the end.
It was a quality race that produced a world-leading time for Mills (49.99) and a season's best for Ross (50.11), who still owns two of the top three times in the world.
There must have been mixed emotions for many Jamaican fans as the Island-born Richards-Ross battled to the wire with the resident Williams-Mills.
5. Jamaican Track Fans Are Loyal, Rabid...
...and seemingly everywhere.
Easily 25,000 packed the stadium in Kingston on Saturday.
At the recent Penn Relays, Jamaican faithful showed up en mass.
There is a huge contingent of Jamaican supporters in London—and they will be out in droves come the Olympics.
When Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake or Melaine Walker enter Olympic Stadium, count on a sea of yellow and green.
Yes, you can hang your hat on it.
View complete Jamaica Invitational results here.
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