Everything is happening fast a furious now, and I’ve been a bit under the weather and trying to get caught up. So with the Diamond League already back under way,a few thoughts on Paris and where everyone is at this point with only weeks to go to London.
First topic Usain Bolt. In spite of some amazing performances being turned in from several athletes, "what’s wrong with Bolt" seems to be leading the conversation. I wish we could focus on who IS performing at a high level – that’s the problem when your marketing is so narrowly focused on one individual When that individual isn’t running well, you don’t think you have anything else to talk about.
But historically sprinters have a short shelf life. Injuries area common. And there’s a reason why you don’t see repeat gold. The most fine tuned bodies on the track are the most fragile. Ask Tyson Gay. Gatlin may actually now be benefiting from time away from the wars. And Bolt is certainly feeling the effects. Blake is too new to this level to be broken down yet. It’s how the sprint game works.
People have gotten mad when I say there’s no such thing as Superman. Or Bolt and anyone is beatable on the day. But it’s nothing personal – just historical perspective. He may still come back and get gold, but we now all know it’s not given.
We won’t see him until London so some folk need to start finding others to talk about. And a pair that I’ve said deserve the attention for a while now showed exactly why in Paris – Sally Pearson, and David Rudisha. Both have done nothing short of compete at a level foreign to everyone else on the planet. Rudisha once again ran sub 1:42 – 1:41.54 to be exact – and he did it by himself. He’s not inches ahead of the competition – nor even feet. He’s half a straight down the track in a two lap race! I feel like cueing up MC Hammer’s "You Can’t Touch This" every time he runs – because they can’t. Consider that the Bolt equivalent would be running 9.6mid because he just decided to today! He’s the most under rated athlete on the planet – period.
Then there’s Sally Pearson. Once again she touched that Eastern Bloc territory on the clock scorching 12.40 with the world in tow. She is the most technically sound hurdler on the planet, man or woman. And she gets ever closer to a WR that was set before half of today’s track fans were born! Pearson is as good as it gets in this sport, and she’s a near lock for London gold.
The big news in London was the men’s 100, always a marquee event at any track meet – which is why we need focus on several athletes. Today’s field was fairly deep with Tyson Gay, Justin Gatlin, Richard Thompson, Christophe Lemaitre and others. But in the end this was a head to head between Gatlin and Gay, with Gay showing that his passing gear is still intact as he overcame a horrible start to get the win.
The sprints in London are going to be awesome – and Americans Gay, Gatlin, and Spearmon will be factors. Add Jamaicans Bolt and Blake. Frenchman Lemaitre and rising Trini Keston Bledman and there will be a lot a faces to watch – and that’s just on the men’s side! Of course there will be favorites by the time they line up, but the sprints will not be the "gimme" that so many would like to believe and there won’t be much room for error.
Ditto the men’s hurdles, long and short. Javier Culson appears to be the early leader in the men’s 400 event as he continues to run well and click off fast times, including his WL 47.78 in Paris. But closing hard was David Greene with a PR 47 84, making him s dangerous opponent. At least we’re finally talking about 47s. Incredible to think that Moses, Harris, Schmid and others used to run those at will. Now if we can get Taylor and Clement back in that zone we’re going to have one exciting London final. Just as the newly minted 12 second short hurdlers are surely going to spice things up.
Xiang is still an early favorite based on consistency and experience – not to mention just missing the WR earlier this season – but Merritt and Richardson definitely threaten to make things more than exciting. And if Robles rebounds in time – remember the WR holder – we could be talking about four men running sub 13 in one race. And if you go back and watch that Trials final, Porter may be capable if he stops chopping wood.
Montsho looked good winning in Paris (49.77). I know we’re all excited about how well Sanya is running, but Montsho just keeps getting better and more confident. She knows she can win and that’s a dangerous athlete. I think Sanya’s still the favorite, but I can’t discount Montsho. And speaking of quarter milers when do we get a Kirani James sighting? I need you see this young man on the track. My gut says the medals come down to Merritt, McQuay and James – but what order? Could be one of the great stretch runs in Games history – on par with Seoul ’88!
Speaking of stretch runs, I watched the Paris men’s 5000 and women’s 1500 – very fast running. And after watching several other fast distance times get put down this year I’m convinced that A) there are a lot of very fit distance runners out there (male & female), but B) the best tactical runners will inherit the medals in London! The London races will be run more like the Indy 500 than the Autobahn, and times coming in are going to be rendered moot – just one man’s opinion.
With the Games so close I’m not sure how much more we’ll see of the top athletes. So I’ll have to look at things on the fly. I will come out with predictions between now and then, but would really like to see more athletes first as my guy days we’re going to get done new faces on the podium. I will attempt to look at relays this week as that’s always a topic of discussion. After all they don’t get any bigger than the Games. Though personally I think we should have a World relay event, but that’s for another day.