It was a big (perhaps huge is more appropriate) day in London. Before a packed stadium and a worldwide audience, eight men toed the line in one of the most anticipated—and fleeting—moments in all of sport.
In the men's 100-meter final, the defending champion and world record-holder, Usain Bolt wiped away all doubt that he is still competing in the stratosphere, while the earthbound pretenders to his throne are merely jumping puddles.
How about a 9.63 seconds win while his countryman and heir apparent Yohan Blake struggled to maintain contact, taking silver in 9.75? Americans Justin Gatlin (9.79), Tyson Gay (9.80) and Ryan Bailey (9.88) finished 3-4-5.
Bolt is at his best on the world's biggest stages and on Day 9 in these London Games, he was very, very good.
Earlier, the U.S.'s Sanya Richards-Ross found sweet redemption in the women's 400 final, winning in 49.55. Recall that in the 2008 Beijing Games, her legs gave out on the homestretch and she had to settle for bronze. Great Britain's Christine Ohuruogu (49.70) just nipped American Dee Dee Trotter (49.72) for silver.
Ezekiel Kemboi of Kenya won the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase in 8 minutes, 18.56 seconds and the Hungarian hammer-man, Krisztian Pars took gold in his event, throwing 264' 5".
Olga Rypokova of Kazakhistan bounded 49'2" for a win in the women's triple jump.
After today's finals results, we're starting to see the major players begin to congeal in Bleacher Report's team standings/scoring table.
With all the media hype and public interest surrounding the men's 100 final—and taking nothing from Bolt's accomplishment—here's the beauty of a points system such as the one Bleacher Report is using to score the track and field competition: Bolt's eight points is no more valuable than those rung up by Ethiopia's Tiki Gelana in the women's marathon, which also took place today in relative obscurity outside the stadium.
Effort is effort and the reward is the same.
So let's see how the nations stack up after today's finals action. (Note: we're using an 8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 scoring system).
|Men's Team||Women's Team||Overall|
|USA 43||USA 33||USA 76|
|Kenya 22||Kenya 25||Kenya 47|
|Great Britain 19||Ethiopia 25||Ethiopia 42|
|China 19||Jamaica 24||Great Britain 41|
|Ethiopia 17||Russia 24||Jamaica 40|
|Jamaica 16 ||Great Britain 22||China 28|
|Germany 11 ||Germany 11||Russia 28|
|Hungary 8 ||Ukraine 11||Ukraine 25|
|Australia 7||China 9 ||Germany 22|
The U.S. took a big hit today, losing a major future scoring opportunity in the men's 400 meters. Not a single U.S. runner made it into the finals. Defending gold medalist LaShawn Merritt pulled up lame in an early heat and Bryshon Nellum and Tony McQuay failed to get past the semifinals.
Looking at the table, we're starting to see the cream rise to the top. Although the order in the standings will be in constant flux, most of the nations you see in the chart will remain there now.
Great Britain is having a strong showing, which makes sense given the venue, but they have plenty of scoring opportunities ahead as well.
I expect to see the Ethiopians and Kenyans continue to press toward the top, although I doubt they will catch the U.S. Their internal rivalry is a pleasure to witness. Look how closely bunched they are! In this case, our chart is only confirming what we already know.
I'm still thinking the women's race will tighten up. We'll see.
Monday's finals action will encompass five events.
Will the struggling Russian pole vault queen, Yelena Isinbayeva, be able to do it one more time? She has talked of quitting after London. Watch the young Brit vaulter Holly Bleasdale. She's a comer.
Also we'll have the men's 400 (minus a U.S. presence) and the men's 400 hurdles with hometown favorite Dai Greene (more points for UK?).
The women's shot put and the women's 3,000-meter steeplechase round out the evening.
Be sure to check back here on Monday for "Standings, Scores, Analysis and More" It's starting to get interesting.
Enjoy the Games!