Jeremy Wariner out in the first round. Ditto Angelo Taylor. Walter Dix a semifinal casualty. Doc Patton a DNS. Trell Kimmons won’t be leading off any 4×1′s this summer. The relay is the only way we’ll see Mike Rodgers in Moscow. Maggie Vessey out in the semis, along with Phoebe Wright. Lauryn Williams another semi casualty. Ditto Mary Wineberg. Sanya Richards Ross hanging on by a thread.
With so many former championship medalists out before the heart of the meet gets going, one might think we’re sending a weakened team to Moscow – and one would be completely wrong. While age and injury are taking their toll on many vets, the youth movement has been strong in Iowa and the remaining vets are running as if they’ve discovered the Fountain of Youth.
Nowhere were both of these facts any more evident than in the men and women’s 100 meters. In the women’s race no fewer than five women headed to the final with new PR’s! The final saw SEVEN women run 11.00 or faster lead by English Gardener (10.85), Octavious Freeman (10.87) and Alexandria Anderson (10.91)! A trio of young new stars ready to unleash themselves on the world. And the world should be worried because this is the best looking group of American women sprinters I’ve seen since the 90′s when Gwen Torrence & Gail Devers were leading a strong young group of talented women into battle.
Speaking of Devers, I’ll say right now I’ve had my doubts about Gardener, in part because I typically don’t have confidence in fast starters – too often they get reeled in. But Gardener is starting to look a lot like Devers, both in her excellent starts and running style. After a pair of 10.8′s and solid wins here in her semi and final, I’m looking forward to seeing her in Russia.
The men’s contingent will be lead by a pair of previous World champions that are running like 20 year olds instead of the 30 year olds that they are. Tyson Gay stormed to victory in a meet record 9.75 – his fastest since 2009 and the #10 time ever run. Gay is clearly past his injury woes and ready to once again challenge for the top of the podium. Finishing in second was Justin Gatlin in 9.89, maintaining his season of excellent times – and not too far off his Olympic gold winning time of 9.85 from Athens and just .10 off his bronze medal winning time in London. This despite nursing a slight injury. Between them they’ve been at the forefront of American sprinting since 2004 – and look as fresh to me as they did then. They’ll be joined by Charles Silmon who’s been looking like a veteran since the NCAA regional meet. Silmon showed poise in winning the NCAA title, and looked to be the most relaxed sprinter on the starting line not named Gatlin or Gay. So as with the women, another nice trio of sprinters heading to Worlds.
With the majority of finals yet to be run over the next two days, I think the 100′s are a good window into what we’ll be seeing the rest of these championships – a small core of top flight veterans showing the way for a large contingent of young, hot athletes. For example, moving through in fine fashion we’ve seen Kori Carter, Georgianne Moline, Brianna Rollins, Ashley Spencer, David Verburg, Arman Hall, Justin Gaymon, and Mary Cain – with Cain looking like a cagey, savvy veteran. Some of the brightest new stars in the US. Look for these and others to feature prominently this weekend.
The young people are coming, and in two days time I think well be sending a young but talented team to Moscow. We’ll see if I’m right at the end of the weekend.