Fastest trio to vie for supremacy
The Beijing Olympic Games will be unlike any before. No previous Olympics have seen the world's fastest trio who are all close contenders for the men's 100 metres gold.
Among them, one is a second-time world record holder who failed to get even one major event title, one is triple world champion who has never created a legally admitted world record and one is concentrated more on the 200 metres but breezily lowered the 100m world record by 0.2 seconds.
Top three of the only four who have ever finished 100 meters inside 9.80 secs, are to compete for the men's 100 metres.
American Tyson Gay, one of the most frightening sprinters, clocked a wind-aided 9.68 secs at the US trials in last month, making him the world’s fastest man under any conditions. Gay's previous US national record in 9.77 secs is, nevertheless, the third best of all time, but seemed more or less unimpressive.
Gay snatched triple golds in the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships in 2007 in Osaka, Japan, which helped him join the prestigious peers of Carl Lewis, Michael Johnson and Maurice Greene, who won three gold medals at a single World Championships.
Jamaican Asafa Powell was frustrated by Gay in the Osaka meet and finished third in 9.96 secs. Major athletics events have proved to be not his game. After finishing fifth at the Athens Games, Powell set the world record twice, 9.77 secs in 2005 and 9.74 secs in 2007.
The 25-year-old Jamaican has run 36 sub-10 second races till now, a record only bettered by US sprinter Maurice Greene with 52 times in his career. Greene created a world record of 9.79 sec in 1999, beating Donovan Bailey's standing record of 9.84 secs, lowering it by the largest margin since the advent of electronic timing. The 33-year-old Greene announced his retirement earlier this year, allegedly due to his nagging injuries.
Powell, by all means, is one of the hardest to beat. He planned to be a mechanic before taking athletics as his career. The Jamaican is one of the only two men who ran under 9.80 seconds legally more than once. His fellow Jamaican Usain Bolt, three years his junior, is a distant second with two sub-9.80 performances.
Bolt is most likely to show up in the Beijing Olympic men's 200m final one day before his 22nd birthday. He stripped Powell of the men’s 100m world record in 9.72 sec, May 31 in New York.
Bolt, sometimes viewed as too tall to sprint with his officially-announced height of 1.94m, started training in 100 meters in 2007 after he broke 36-year-old Jamaican national 200m record by 0.11 sec at 19.75 secs.
With the men’s 100m world record in hand, Bolt also created the year’s best of 200m in 19.67 seconds. He is the favourite who has been expected to break the men’s 200m world record held for 12 years by Michael Johnson at 19.32 secs. But Bolt played down the possibility of creating a new 200m world record too soon. “Maybe next year,” he said.
Powell said Bolt’s record-breaking run in the 100 metres race took off the pressure. “Now I can be a lot more focused on what I need to achieve,” Powell said, adding that running within 9.60 seconds in 100 metres was “definitely" going to happen.
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