Usain Bolt: 4 Sprinters Who Just Might Beat the Jamaican Blur

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIIAugust 2, 2012

Usain Bolt: 4 Sprinters Who Just Might Beat the Jamaican Blur

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    Making the case that Usain Bolt will lose the 100 or the 200-meter dash at the 2012 Summer Olympics is analogous to arguing that Chick-fil-A is healthy.

    Indeed, everyone loves an underdog story.

    However, to force the latter scenario upon yourself would eventually result in eating more chicken and expecting to lose weight based on the food's taste; not its actual substance.

    I love the notion that someone could blindside Bolt in London. The story would taste like a juicy chicken sandwich.

    For it to organically happen, though, the substance of reality would need to be stranger than fiction.

    The odds of constantly eating fried chicken and staying fit compare favorably with betting against Bolt in either race with 100 percent conviction.

    With emphasis on "might" because it probably won't happen—and "just" because if someone does trump Bolt, it will be by a fry—here are four sprinters who have a puncher's chance to beat the Jamaican Blur.

Justin Gatlin

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    After alleged doping tainted and derailed his career, the 30-year-old American is back for one last shot at Olympic glory.

    Gatlin will compete in the 100 and 200, but considering his best time in the latter event occurred a decade ago, the shorter dash will be his only chance to best Bolt.

    Last month at the U.S. Olympic trials, Gatlin ran 9.80 seconds to win the 100-meter qualifier. He beat teammate Tyson Gay, who is considered to be the faster man but was not at full strength after hip surgery.

    Usain Bolt's most recent 100-meter dash in competition came last month, where he ran a 9.79.

    It's unclear why Bolt had such a high time, but his showing in Oslo for the Diamond League was a far cry from his world record time of 9.58.

    If Bolt somehow runs that poor of a time, and Gatlin can manage to improve his personal best, he could pull off arguably the biggest upset in track history.

    Even if Bolt falters that badly, though, catching that sort of lightning in a bottle seems like such a long shot.

Asafa Powell

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    Powell's best showing in the 200 is still a half a second off of Usain Bolt's time at the World Championships in South Korea in 2011.

    His best days may be behind him, but Powell has the best combination of health and speed in the 100 meters than all of his competitors besides Bolt.

    In fact, last month in Oslo, Powell nearly beat Bolt, posting a time of 9.84 seconds while Bolt won at 9.79. As BBC Sports points out, Powell had ran his personal best time of 9.72 at that very site two years prior.

    The firepower is apparently there to compete with Bolt, but Powell will need his compatriot to get a bad start out of the blocks to have any chance.

    If there's any criticism of Bolt, it's that he doesn't get off to the best of starts. He even got disqualified at the aforementioned World Championships for a false start.

    Feeling similar pain to the USA's Tyson Gay, Powell has never won an individual medal in two previous Olympic outings.

    That will likely serve as extra motivation in his last Olympics, along with making a name for himself amidst Bolt's undeniable presence.

Tyson Gay

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    Plain and simple, Gay owns the best-ever time in the 100-meter dash by a man not named Usain Bolt.

    Bolt did tie Gay's milestone of 9.69 at the 2008 Beijing Games but hasn't run as well lately. Then again, Gay hasn't either. He finished the U.S. Olympic trials with a time of 9.86 after missing nearly a year running top-speed due to surgery in his right hip.

    As he approaches 30 years of age, this will be Gay's final shot to add the gold medal that never was.

    In gut-wrenching fashion, Gay tore his hamstring in the trials ahead of the 2008 Games and has struggled with injuries and consistency ever since.

    It's sad that one of the best American sprinters of all time has never won an Olympic medal. That alone makes Gay easy enough to root for.

    Unlike the other burners on this list, Gay will only be competing in the 100, making it a do-or-die ordeal for his long overdue, first career medal at the Summer Games.

    If Gay can somehow flash that 9.69 speed again, he just may find himself at the top of the podium on Sunday evening.

Yohan Blake

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    Fellow countryman Asafa Powell is more suited for the 100-meter event in terms of challenging Usain Bolt, but Blake is Bolt's most significant competition in the 200.

    Blake will also have the freshest legs in the competition. He is the youngest of the elite sprinters at age 23 and has no history of significant injury.

    His 200-meter showing of 19.28 in the 2011 Diamond League meet in Brussels was electric. He zoomed ahead of Walter Dix, a renowned sprinter who couldn't make it to London.

    Only Bolt's 19.19 in 2009 tops the time turned in by Blake. Bolt won the World Championships in South Korea last year with a time of 19.40.

    All indications are that Blake should provide the most resistance to Bolt's quest for back-to-back gold medals in both the 100 and 200-meter races at the 2012 Games.