London Aviva Grand Prix 2013: Athletes Under the Most Pressure to Impress

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London Aviva Grand Prix 2013: Athletes Under the Most Pressure to Impress
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The 2013 Aviva London Grand Prix is rapidly approaching, as the top track and field athletes in the world are preparing to come together and compete for supremacy.

While every participant may have something to gain in this event, a select few have an extraordinary amount to lose.

In the everlasting words of Queen and David Bowie, certain participants are "under pressure" to impress.

Every athlete attending the London Grand Prix will be looking to cash in on their golden opportunity, thus securing a medal for their trophy case. More importantly, they'll both represent their country and have an opportunity to build momentum as they prepare for future events.

Unfortunately, some won't have the luxury of anonymity or lowered expectations.

Some have carved out the reputation of a legend and have thus entered must-win territory at a time in which the sport truly needs their superstars to shine.

Others are looking to overcome their countrymen's wrongs and shine a light on the positive aspects of the craft—and not those who have tested positive.

One way or another, the following athletes have a steep hill to climb as they look to shine under the bright lights of London.

 

Usain Bolt, Jamaica

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Controversy has arisen in track in field, as two of the fastest men in the world, Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell, have tested positive for doping. This has taken the running community by storm, as Gay and Powell are the top two competitors in sprinting alongside Usain Bolt.

Once the dust has settled, however, only one thing will become clear—Bolt needs to handle his business in London.

With both Gay and Powell out, Bolt becomes the unquestioned favorite in the 100-meter dash. Should he come up short—which he rarely does—it would be a breathtaking loss that some would inevitably label as an example of Bolt not taking his competition seriously.

At a time in which the track and field world needs all the positive press it can get, they can't afford to see their biggest global superstar go down.

If the world's fastest man is able to hold down his lane and pick up the gold medal, there will be a sense of normalcy. Should he face defeat, the track and field world may be able to crown a new star, but Bolt's defeat couldn't be more ill-timed.

With his competitors disgraced, Bolt must prove that the king of sprinting is still on top of his game without any performance enhancing drugs.

 

Carmelita Jeter, United States of America

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With the men's team in shambles, it's on Carmelita Jeter to serve as a beacon of hope for the United States of America.

Jeter has emerged as one of the most popular faces in all of track and field. She won an Olympic gold medal in the 4x100-meter relay, a silver medal in the 100-meter dash and a bronze in the 200.

At the Aviva London Grand Prix, Jeter has the opportunity to shine and claim gold in the 100-meter race, thus shifting the media's attention to a different aspect of American running—success.

Of the runners involved, Jeter has the fastest personal best in this race type at 10.64. The second-best mark amongst participants in this race is held by two-time defending Olympic gold medalist Shelley-Ann Fraser-Price.

Throw in Kelly-Ann Baptiste holding the best event time of any runner involved and Jeter's path to the gold becomes quite crowded.

These are the type of comparisons that Jeter has been facing throughout her career, as she has emerged as the face of American women's track and field. For that reason, the only acceptable finish at the London Grand Prix is a gold medal.

Anything less would be disappointing for the United States of America's fastest woman and thus fail to deflect our attention away from the trouble on the men's side.

 

Michael Rodgers & Rakieem Salaam, United States of America

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As previously alluded to, Gay, the United States' most revered active runner, tested positive for doping and will be subject to a suspension. While Bolt may be the favorite in this race, there are two runners under even more pressure.

That would be Michael Rodgers and Rakieem Salaam of the U.S. National Team.

If Rodgers fails to medal, it would be a devastating blow for the United States. Rodgers and Salaam are the only two Americans in the 100-meter dash, and while defeating Bolt may be a tall task, at least one of them must make the podium.

As for why, it's all about Gay.

Gay is the reigning champion in this event, but with his potential doping ban, the U.S. will be without a male superstar in sprinting.

While this event would hardly solidify one's status as one of the world's best, it can be a launching bad for future events.

For Rodgers and Salaam, anything worse than a third-place finish would be a failure—even more so than we'd usually acknowledge.

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