Beijing Olympics: Full Preview of the Men's 100-Meter Dash

Matt StevensCorrespondent IJuly 29, 2008

Sick and tired of reading shallow previews of the men’s 100 meters at the Beijing Olympics, where the only three names mentioned are “Bolt, Powell, and Gay”?

Well I’m here to let you know that there will actually be more than three people involved in the race in Beijing, even if the aforementioned trio will most probably end up sweeping the medals.

Before I do that however, I should probably give my prediction on which of the “Big Three” will be crowned the World’s Fastest Man.

1st: Usain Bolt (Jamaica) – Anyone who’s seen Bolt’s world-record performance of 9.72 in New York where he completely blitzed the world champion Tyson Gay would find it hard to go past the young Jamaican for the gold medal.

Despite his recent loss to Asafa Powell in Stockholm, Bolt would have to have another horrendous start if he were to lose at the Olympics.

The only other potential roadblock standing between Bolt and the gold is his coach, who still is yet to decide whether he will actually contest the 100 meters at Beijing or simply focus solely on the 200. For everyone’s sake, let’s hope that Bolt is permitted to run.

2nd: Asafa Powell (Jamaica) – I originally had Tyson Gay in this position. However, a combination of Gay’s injury sustained at the US Olympic Trials and Powell’s seemingly great form over the last week has swayed me to believe that Powell will take the silver medal.

His victory over Bolt in 9.88 seconds, followed by a run of 9.94 seconds to take first in London indicates that Powell is over his recent spat of injuries and is ready to peak at the Olympic Games.

His history of underperforming at major meets (fifth at the 2004 Olympics and third at the 2007 World Championships), makes it difficult for me to reconcile that Powell will be physically or mentally capable of outrunning Bolt in the final.

3rd: Tyson Gay (USA) – It seems that no one will know just how serious the injury that Tyson Gay obtained at the US Olympic Trials is until he steps foot onto the track in Beijing in two weeks time.

If Gay is fully fit and in peak form in the final (like he was when he ran 9.77 and a windy 9.68 at the US Trials), he is clearly capable of beating Powell home, and his experience in winning major titles could even perhaps give Gay the edge over Usain Bolt.

However, Gay’s lack of preparation for the Games, whereby he will not compete at any meet before the heats of the 100 meters, will make it difficult for him to come to the Olympics in peak form, and ultimately could cost him a chance at the gold medal.

Best of the Rest:

Whilst I don’t claim to be psychic, I’ll do my best to predict the remaining five finalists, and the subsequent eight unsuccessful semi-finalists in the 100 meters.

4th: Derrick Atkins (Bahamas) – The silver medalist from last year's World Championships doesn’t seem to be in the same vein of form as he was last year leading up to that meet.

Unlike last year, he has struggled to run any sub-10 times, and hasn’t come close to replicating the 9.91 seconds he ran to win that silver medal. Despite this, Atkins has still consistently gained high places in most of the major meets this year, regularly outperforming the men who will be battling him for a place in the final at the Olympics.

5th: Richard Thompson (Trinidad and Tobago) – The NCAA champion at 100 meters this year comes into the Olympics as one of the best performers of the year, indicated by his run of 9.93 earlier in the season.

After wrapping up his college career, Thompson has come over to Europe to compete against the big boys in two major Olympic lead-up events, and has more than held his own, finishing with quick times and a top-four placing in both races.

6th: Walter Dix (USA) – Dix is really the unknown of the field, having not competed in any professional races following his amazing but wind-assisted run of 9.80 to place second in the final of the 100 at the US Trials.

There are rumours that Dix may have sustained an injury at the Trials, however this has not been confirmed and even if true, he has ample time to rest and recover before the Olympics begin.

Having run multiple sub-10 times, Dix is no one-hit wonder, and should prove in the Olympics that he is a star.

7th: Jaysuma Saidy Ndure (Norway) – Ndure placed himself at the forefront of male sprinting during the latter half of last year, where he produced several top performances in both the 100 and 200 meters.

He has proved that last year was no fluke, continuing to produce impressive performances throughout this season including a run of 10.01. His consistency should help him reach the final after three grueling rounds at the Olympics.

8th: Darrel Brown (Trinidad and Tobago) – Brown has always been an impressive sprinter, winning the World Youth and World Junior Championships before finishing with silver at the senior World Championships in 2003.

His form somewhat lapsed for a few years following this; however he seems to have again recaptured this top form over the last season. He ran an impressive 10.02 earlier this year, and looked on track to run a sub-10 time at his national championships before tripping over halfway through the race.

Due to this fall, Brown’s form is also somewhat of an unknown, but if he runs at his peak, he should be able to make the final.

Eight Other Semi-Finalists:

Olusoji Fasuba (Nigeria) – World 60m Champion not on the top of his form in the 100 this season.

Churandy Martina (Netherlands Antilles) – Fifth in the final of the World Championships last year, but a stronger field at the Olympics may push him out of a spot in the final this year.

Samuel Francis (Qatar) – Young sprinter who ran a 9.99 last season. London Olympics might be his best shot.

Michael Frater (Jamaica) – Seems to be getting into top form, running a 10.00 last week. Big chance of making the final.

Darvis Patton (USA) – May have peaked at the US Trials, but is capable of matching it with most of the runners here.

Marc Burns (Trinidad and Tobago) – Ran a 9.97 last week, indicating that he is also a big chance to at least make the final.

Kim Collins (Saint Kitts and Nevis) – 2003 World Champion is past his prime but always performs at the major meets.

Francis Obikwelu (Portugal) – Olympic silver medallist from 2004 may also be past his best but is still capable of reaching the final.

Personally, I can’t wait to see what unfolds. With the fastest three runners in history shaping up to do battle, and a supporting cast all capable of running under 10 seconds in the final, a world record is highly possible and would provide a great spectacle to an event already enshrined in history.

Bring it on.


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