The men’s 100-meter dash was supposed to be the return of the American sprinter. At least that’s what Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay thought.
What they didn’t know was that in between their dominance in the early 2000s and the 2012 Olympics, there had been a Jamaican revolution. Usain Bolt happened. Yohan Blake too.
No, these guys weren’t your average Jamaican sprinters. This wasn’t Asafa Powell, who never truly challenged either American in today's race. These two are the fastest men in the world, present and future.
Gatlin and Gay got a look at the truth first hand, when Bolt and Blake finished 1-2 in the 100-meter dash on Sunday. Bolt, in particular, looked like a man amongst boys by the tail end of the race, speeding to victory by 0.12 seconds, an Olympic record.
Gatlin got off to the quickest start, but fell into third when Bolt and Blake turned on the gas at the 50-meter mark. For the 2004 gold-medal winner, a personal-best time (9.79) and bronze medal is nothing to be ashamed about.
In his first Olympics since being served a doping suspension in 2006, Gatlin ran the best qualifying time of any runner in the field. Whether this performance is his on the Olympic stage or not, he has catapulted his name into the conversation of the world's top sprinters.
Gay would finish just behind Gatlin in fourth with a time of 9.80. He may have had the best chance for the U.S. to win based on history, with a personal-best time of 9.69 in 2008.
Gay, though, had not reached sub-9.7 times since that race and had finished with the fourth-best trial time amongst the group. Injuries have slowed down his development the past few years, most notably a torn labrum in 2011.
Finishing behind the Jamaican’s Bolt and Blake cannot be viewed as a failure. Only Blake had beaten “The Lightning Bolt” on the same track, and that was only in the Jamaican qualifiers.
When the gold medal is in play, no one is faster than Bolt. He proved that today in London.
No reason to be “inconsolable.” Gay and Gatlin faced aging, injuries and disqualifications, amongst other things in their quest to reclaim the title of world’s fastest man. Not a bad result for a couple sprinters hitting 30.
You can’t teach fast. Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay were admirable, but they couldn’t keep up with the Bolt.