Great 100 showdowns in store
By Freida Nicholls | Sat, August 04, 2012 - 12:00 AM
Two of the finest race matchups will take centre stage today and tomorrow at the Olympic Stadium in London.
The men’s and women’s 100 metres are probably the most anticipated events, and long before the athletics programme began yesterday, everywhere the discussions zeroed in on the possible results of these two races.
The women’s version will pit defending Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce against compatriot Veronica Campbell-Brown and Carmelita Jeter of the United States.
Fraser-Pryce is in great shape, winning the Jamaican Olympic Trials in fine style in 10.70 seconds – a Jamaican record and world-leading time.
Campbell-Brown is the grand dame of international sprinting, and her experience at competitions of this level signals that she should never be counted out. She could really challenge the favourites, even though her better shot is in the 200 metres.
Jeter has been very consistent over the past year, and looked impressive at the US Olympic Trials posting a time of 10.81.
I understand that she has Jamaican lineage, and that will give her added tenacity in this race. She is hungry to reposition the Americans as the premier sprinters in the world, and she will be going into this competition with that uppermost on her mind.
Under the radar is the African champion Blessing Okagbare from Nigeria. If there is an upset to be had, she is likely to provide it.
Okagbare, who trains in California under coach Will Smith, is an Olympic silver medallist from Beijing in the long jump and a finalist in the 4x100 metres relay.
The men’s version of the 100 metres has the pundits in a frenzy. The combinations being tabled are fascinating – a Jamaican clean sweep in no particular order – Usain Bolt-Yohan Blake-Asafa Powell in a 1-2-3 finish; then Bolt-Blake-Tyson Gay or Blake-Bolt-Gay.
Bolt must have come to grips with the fact that Blake is in top shape, and he has a bullet start. It will be difficult, close to impossible, to “run him down” in London.
Blake won both the 100 and 200 in fine fashion at the Jamaican trials, and if Bolt hopes to successfully defend his title, he must have no doubts whatsoever about his ability to do so.
Bolt is a sprinting phenomenon who has the ability to soak up the atmosphere in the Olympic Stadium and use it to his advantage.
Once in his mind, he feels fit and ready, he will make them all work to take his title from him. No one has gone where he has gone before, and that experience still counts for something.
Blake sees himself as the heir apparent whose time has come. He has signalled that he is not intimidated by the “king”; that he is ready and eager to take his “rightful place”.
Confidence is a good thing, a necessary ingredient that is an Olympian’s mindset but over-confidence can prove to be one’s undoing.
Powell has been there twice before. He must be feeling that this is his last chance to prove his worth. With the focus on the Bolt-Blake face-off, he could see his chance to slip the entire field and take the gold.
Gay has a lot to prove. The Jamaicans have upset America’s sprint dominance and the United States has had no answer. This is his final moment of truth.
Am I going to call either of these two races? The answer is no. Having been on that stage, I know that this 100 metres for both men and women will be one for the storybooks, and there are too many variables in the mix.
What I wish for is a Jamaican sweep in the men’s event, and for Fraser-Pryce to successfully defend her title.
- Editor's Choice