2012 Olympics: Jamaica Track Sets Tone in Rivalry with US Sprinters

Noah JampolFeatured ColumnistAugust 4, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 04:  Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica celebrates winning the gold in the Women's 100m Final on Day 8 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 4, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)
Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

You can score round one for the Jamaicans.

In the first of six much-anticipated duels, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce landed a haymaker with a narrow victory over her American rival, Carmelita Jeter, in the women's 100-meter dash final.

A small consolation for the U.S. contingent was that the result was not the resounding sweep of the Beijing Games.

Still, Veronica Campbell-Brown denied Americans Tianna Madison and Allyson Felix a spot on the podium despite personal bests from both.

With one event in the books, the spotlight now turns to the men.

Usain Bolt, Tyson Gay, Yohan Blake and Justin Gatlin will all square off in Sunday's men's 100 final.

While the odds looked pretty good on the women's side for an American win, their male counterparts face much more daunting prospects.

On the Jamaican side, Yohan Blake is in excellent form and has run 9.75 seconds this season.

Usain Bolt is Usain Bolt, despite a hiccup or two and some hamstring problems. If he rises to the occasion like he seemingly always does, this could be a race for silver even for Blake.

Still, there is some hope for the Americans. Newcomer Ryan Bailey made waves in the prelims with a sweltering 9.88 personal best. 

Tyson Gay is completely healthy, and has steadily improved since coming back from his spell of injuries.

Justin Gatlin has flashed an impressive start that could trump the Jamaicans if they close at less than their best.

Looking further ahead, the American women have great prospects in the 200-meter dash. Allyson Felix has demonstrated great improvement in the 100 and has run a spectacular 21.69 in the 200 this year.

Jeter will be up to get some revenge as well, and Sanya Richards-Ross is again showing great form in the 400 that she can convert downwards.

Jamaicans Campbell-Brown and Fraser-Price figure to stand in their way again.

The 200-meter men, led by Wallace Spearmon, appear to be somewhat overmatched versus Bolt and Blake, but you underestimate Spearmon's finish at your own peril.

The relays are completely unpredictable on the U.S. side, but the American women and men have so far run solid times this year and have not yet been afflicted with dropped batons.

Round 1 might have gone Jamaica's way, but there's still five more showdowns to come.