The CHill Zone of T&F: Conway's View From the Finish Line

The Sprints New World Order

Jul 22nd, 2018
2:53 pm PST

The “Old Guard” is officially gone. It took a long time as athletes have longer careers than in the past, but it still happens. The athletes that have dominated the world stage since 2004 have finally given way to the new generation of sprinters and hurdlers. When the next championship cycle begins in 2019, there will be a slew of new young athletes taking the podium. Predicting who is always difficult as injuries and the emergence of new talent makes things tenuous at best. Many of this year’s youngsters have an outstanding chance to be on the podium. Following are some athletes to watch in 2019.

 

Men’s 100

Always a tough event to predict, but Americans Christian Coleman and co yearly list leader Ronnie Baker (9.88) have been consistently along the top two or three in races. Signaling a possible return of an American to the top of the podium. Several individuals are within reach however, with Bingtian Su of China, Zharnel Hughes of Great Britain, and Yohan Blake of Jamaica improving their positions this year. A potential wild card is Noah Lyles of the US, who has beaten all and currently co leads the world on the clock.

Men’s 200

While Lyles may not choose to attempt a sprint double in Doha, he’s certain to contest the deuce which is his favorite event. He’s run under 19.70 three times this year with a best of 19.65 and he’s undefeated in the event. Likely challengers in Doha should include defending champion Ramil  Guliyev, and Trinidadian Jereem Richards. There’s also the potential of several quartermilers stepping into the fight. Among them American Michael Norman, Jamaican Akeem Bloomfield, and Bahamian Steven Gardiner.

Men’s 400

Norman may or may not run the deuce, but he’s become the odds on favorite in this event based on his PR 43.61 and 43.05 relay efforts this year. That’s saying a lot given that South African WR holder Wayde van Niekerk is still competing, but his fitness is unknown due to surgery this year – the result of a soccer injury. Similarly, the status of former champion LaShawn Merritt is unknown as he’s not competed in 2016. The sub 44 fraternity has gotten a couple of new members this year however, with Steven Gardiner (43.87) and Akeem Bloomfield (43.97) joining the club. And previous champion Kirani James is working his way back from illness. All of the above, along with several individuals running under 44.50 has kept the 400 very competitive.

Women’s 400

While we’re discussing the 400, another exclusive club added a member when Bahamian Shaunae Miller Uibo ran 48.97 to defeat Burundi’s Nawal Nasser (49.08) as they became the two fastest female quartermilers in a decade. This event is finding itself suddenly getting faster as a slew of young women are finding their way into the 49 second realm. Lead by Americans Shakima Whimbley, Lynna Irby and Kendall Ellis. Throw in Allyson Felix who could be looking to finish her career in this event, and the women’s 400 has the potential to be explosive.

Women’s 200

The women’s deuce has lacked the competition of the big names as most have been relatively quiet this year. Double defending world champion Daphne Schippers has spent most of her time running the 100 this year, while previous champion Allyson Felix has run a couple of quiet 400’s. And both Tori Bowie and Elaine Thompson have been nursing injuries. This has allowed some others to emerge. Primarily Americans Jenna Prandini (22.16) and Gabby Thomas (22.19) who look ready to challenge 22.00. Look for 2019 to be full of surprises in this event.

Women’s 100

This year the 100 has surprisingly been dominated by the Ivory Coast, with Marie Josee Ta Lou and Murielle Ahoure dominating the competition. While Brit Dina Asher Smith has suddenly found her stride and broken 11.00. American Aleia Hobbs has emerged as a strong contender as well. Possibly providing defending world champ Tori Bowie with a solid running mate. Bowie, by the way, has been nursing an injury as has defending Olympic champion Elaine Thompson. While former champion Shelley Ann Fraser Pryce has been working her way back from maternity leave. I believe this group is going to produce fireworks in Doha.

The sprints have changed rapidly over the course of the last year – especially on the men’s side. That’s been a good thing as clearly the new world order has become more global in scope. It appears that things will no longer be a duel between the US and Jamaica as Europe and Africa have grown stronger in the sprints and hurdles. That’s a good thing. Races have become more unpredictable, and therefore more exciting. At the same time, depth seems to be increasing as is the prospect of doublers – both 100/200 and 200/400. The sport may have to find ways to accommodate that as it’s a good thing.

Many were lamenting the retirement of the “Old Guard”, but the sprints look to be in good hands. The good thing about evolution, is that things tend to get better. And so it is in the sprint world. This next championship cycle is going to be a lot of fun!

 

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One Response to “The Sprints New World Order”

  1. Waynebo says:

    It is really good to see you posting again! Had me a little worried. On point as always. The young lady running for Ato Boldon who ran 22.50 in the 200m at 16 years-old definitely looks promising. I’m excited to see what she does. I hope she stays healthy and stays with Ato.

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