The 200 meters belongs to the United States and Jamaica. That’s the conclusion one must come to when looking at this year’s results on both the men’s and women’s sides. Yes, others are on the track, and even occasionally make an appearance in the 3rd or 4th position, but reality is that in spite of the lack of focus on the event outside of major championships, this event is undergoing major change and only two nations are keeping pace.
On the men’s side, gone are the days when 20.0/20.1 made you a major contender. Sub 20 is required to even think about finishing in the upper half of a major final and is no guarantee of a medal. Sub 20 sprinters like Churandy Martina, and Christophe Lemaitre remain a step off the pace, when dealing with the members of this top five list.
On the women’s side, enough athletes are approaching 22.0x that we are nearly back to the excellence of the women of the 90′s! I expect to see some new members of the sub 22 club come 2013/2014.
This is due to the speed that we see being funneled into the event. Sub 10 men and sub 11 women are taking the event seriously and the results show it, as many of these sprinters are now taking the double seriously – at least in the bigger meets. Now if only the top level European Mets would put the sprint double back on the schedule we’d probably see even more dramatic improvement in the event!
Speaking of improvement, props to the Jamaican men – and to the women in general – as they seem to have figured out that the turn is the key to blazing 200 meter times – everyone else take note. That said, here are my top five rankings for 2012.
Men’s 200 Meter Rankings
1. Usain Bolt (Jamaica) — The top man in the 100, he fills that spot here as well. His loss at Jamaican Trials (19.83) was avenged in London with a sizzling 19.32 second run. Post London wins in 19.58 & 19.66 have Bolt four finals, four sub 20s, and the number one spot for 2012.
2. Yohan Blake (Jamaica) — Blake took the measure of Usain Bolt at Trials, but as with the 100, was runner up in London , in spite of running 19.44 – such is the quality at the top of the 200 meter food chain these days! London was Blake’s only loss, adding wins in Kingston and Brussels to his Trials and Games record.
3. Nickel Ashmeade (Jamaica) — Ashmeade’ s one "bad" race happened to be at Jamaican Trials, keeping him out of the Olympic race. That aside however, he won in Monaco & Birmingham; was second in Kingston, New York, & Zurich; and finished third in Lausanne. Defeating everyone except Bolt & Blake, and three sub 20s to his credit earn Ashmeade the number three spot on this list.
4. Warren Weir (Jamaica) — In a huge breakthrough season for Weir he finished in the third spot at both Jamaican Trials and the Games themselves. Unfortunately he finished behind Ashmeade in Kingston, New York, Lausanne and Zurich – dropping him to the fourth spot.
5. Wallace Spearmon (United States) — Spearmon opened up at 19.95 and looked ready for the London podium. He seemed to stall out after that however, and in spite of a windy 19.82 at Trials his seasons best was his 19.90 for fourth in London. With a 6th in Lausanne; 5th in Zurich and 3rds in Monaco & Birmingham, fifth is as good as it gets for Spearmon this year.
Women’s 200 Meter Rankings
1. Allyson Felix (United States) — After two silver medals in this event at the Games, Felix was focused on attaining gold this time. Mission accomplished in 21.88 seconds. A nice follow up to her PR 21.69 at Trials as Felix was undefeated in this event and earns the top spot in the rankings.
2. Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce (Jamaica) — Fraser Pryce used her 100 meter speed to tremendous advantage in this event as she made transmits strides in 2012. She only contested the event thrice on the season, but with a victory at Jamaican Trials (22.10) and silver in London (22.09) she earns the #2 slot in her #2 event – having shown herself to be the better of all but Felix when it mattered.
3. Carmelita Jeter (United States) — Jeter is another 100 meter "specialist" who continues to make major noise in the deuce. A 2nd in Shanghai; runner-up at Trials (22.11); and bronze in London (22.14) was enough for the three spot here. This after her runner-up at World’s last year marks Jeter as a true double threat in the short sprints.
4. Veronica Campbell Brown (Jamaica) — VCB entered the season looking for a three peat in this event in London. That proved a bit more difficult with so many sprinters focusing on her strength – the turn – this year. She managed early wins in Shanghai & Ostrava, but 3rd at Jamaica Trials and 4th in London – along with a seasons best of only 20.32 – leave her in the 4th position here.
5. Sanya Richards Ross (United States) — While several 100 meter sprinters moved up to double, Sanya moved down from the quarter with much success. She took the New York DL in a sizzling PR of 22.09 before finishing 3rd at Trials in 22.22. But as Felix did last year, she discovered the toll that doubling in the long sprints takes in a major championship and managed only 5th in London (22.39) – and finished in the same spot here.
So there we have the five best 200 meter runners – men/women – on the planet in 2012. Note to meet promoters: some of the sports best athletes compete in this event – it should be contested far more often than it is currently!
The holidays have been very busy this year, but going to try to get the 400 up in time for Christmas.