iconimg Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Michael Johnson, Hindustan Times
London, August 08, 2012
The men's 100 metres final lived up to all the hype. It was the best 100m I have seen, and not only because it was the fastest collective 100m race ever. Every man finished under ten seconds, except Asafa Powell, who pulled up with injury.
The 100m is the premier event of the entire Olympics. While there was fierce argument over Bolt versus Blake for the gold, there was also debate over who else might win a medal.

Tyson Gay was a sentimental favourite: a 100 and 200m world champion in 2007, Gay has been beset with injury throughout his career, and one caused him to miss the 2008 Games.

Gay ended up in the worst place to finish at the Olympics - fourth. He has never won an Olympic medal and, unfortunately at almost 30 years old and often injured, probably never will.

Back again
The bronze medal went to Justin Gatlin, the 100m Olympic champion from 2004. He tested positive in 2006 and served a four-year doping suspension. Many, including myself, thought that he would never return to the sport and certainly not back to world-class form.

But as he started to look like a medal-winner, there was a fear we could have a former drug cheat as Olympic 100m champion.

Gatlin has certainly redeemed himself as an athlete, but now he has the opportunity to redeem himself as a person, by using his success after his suspension to do good for the sport and perhaps share his experience with kids to serve as a cautionary tale.

In the end, though, it was Bolt who retained his title. When I interviewed him a couple of years ago for my book Gold Rush, I asked him where his motivation would come from after becoming Olympic and world champion as well as world record-holder in such a short period. He told me he was sufficiently motivated because in his mind he would not truly be considered a legend, like me and Carl Lewis, unless he were to win the Olympic title again.

Only Lewis had previously won the 100m gold medal twice and I am the only person to win the 400m twice. There was always a chance Bolt would not retain his title and that made this the most eagerly awaited event at the London Olympics. It did not disappoint; neither did Bolt.

The writer is a four-time Olympic gold medallist and currently holds the 400M world record.