London 2012 Track and Field: Usain Bolt Will Not Win Third Gold Medal in 4x100m

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London 2012 Track and Field: Usain Bolt Will Not Win Third Gold Medal in 4x100m
Stu Forster/Getty Images

Usain Bolt proved that he remains the world's fastest man by becoming the first Olympian to repeat in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes in London.

He'll look for a third gold medal during the 2012 Olympics in the 4x100m relay on Friday night, but he and his Jamaican teammates will be upstaged by the U.S. team.

Even with two of the world's fastest men on the team in Bolt and Yohan Blake, the Jamaicans will need more than just two good legs when they have such steep competition from the Americans.

While the common belief among once-every-four-years viewers is that the Jamaicans are so much better than the rest of the world that they are a lock for gold with Bolt and Blake, that couldn't be any further from the truth.

A good 4x100 team needs to have four good runners, but with Asafa Powell's groin injury holding him back, the team is missing one of its three elite members, and must now rely on two runners who are not up to par with the rest of the team—or Team USA.

However, the Americans have a close combination to that of Bolt and Blake in Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay, who have two of the top four times in the world this year.

These two will keep it close enough that they might be a step or two behind the Jamaicans, leaving it up to the other half of the team to take a lead.

Easy enough.

Ryan Bailey is an elite runner who is among the best in the world, and was part of the 100m finals earlier this week. He and Asafa Powell were supposed to have a great race between the third-best runners from each country, but Powell's groin injury ended that.

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Now Bailey is in position to lift the U.S. to a gold medal in the 4x100m.

Bailey will be the third leg of the team, and could be joined by Mike Rodgers, Harry Adams, Darvis Patton or Mookie Salaam who can all run sub-10 seconds, and have done so this year. No matter who is chosen, they will likely post a good time.

The Jamaicans might have arguably the top two runners in the event, but they don't have the same depth as the U.S., and will suffer in London because of it.

While the Jamaicans have a few runners who could round out the four spots, they truly needed Powell to run for them. He would have given them a third elite runner, and they would have had a clear advantage against the Americans' top three of Gay, Gatlin and Bailey.

Now, however, there will be much more pressure on Bolt and Blake to run well, and they need to make up a lot of ground when they run.

Friday night's semifinal heats will be very telling of what we will see on Saturday during the final. Obviously neither team will be going full-speed as they try to conserve a bit of energy, but if the Jamaicans other than Bolt and Blake struggle, they have very little hope of winning gold.

With Powell, the Jamaicans had a slight advantage.

Without him you can expect to see the Americans' big three and one of their many options edge Bolt and Jamaica, ending Bolt's hopes for three golds during the 2012 London Games.

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