Steve Mullings, already the world leader at over 100 meters at 9.90, improved his best to 9.89 (+2.0) at the NTC Classic in Florida. The mark is important because it shows consistency for Mullings at this new level of performance. It’s also important because it shows just how much of a log jam Jamaica is going to have in it’s 100 meter final in one month’s time.
In the past it was the United States that had to suffer the agony of leaving home sprinters that could possibly have made the final in a major if they had just been able to crack the top three at the National Championships. Carl Lewis (‘80), Calvin Smith (‘84), Albert Robinson (‘88), and Mike Marsh (‘92) are just a few of the men who found themselves in the dreaded 4th place when trying to make the team in the 100 – not to mention those in 5th and 6th.
Various nations have had the same problem in other events. Kenya in the men’s 800, Russian in the women’s 400, and Ethiopia in the 5000 are countries with this “quality” problem. Jamaica has been nearing that stage in the 100 in recent years. In ‘08 with Bolt (9.85), Powell (9.97) and Frater (10.04) they were close but 4th place (Anderson, 10.11) and 5th place (Thomas, 10.22) were off the pace. The 2009 Trials for Berlin was even closer with Bolt (9.86), Powell (9.97), Frater (10.02), Anderson (10.07), Mullings (10.08), Blake (10.09) putting their first five under 10.11 and giving them the toughest sprint trials this side of the US.
In 2011 that should change dramatically as over the last season and a half the PR’s of Jamaica’s 100 men have taken a major turn. Mullings latest WL/PR gives Jamaica five sprinters with bests under 9.90 – Usain Bolt (9.59), Asafa Powell (9.72), Nesta Carter (9.78), Yohan Blake (9.88) and Mullings. Throw in Mario Forsythe (9.95), Michael Frater (9.97) & Lerone Clarke (9.99) and you have a potential final with at least eight men under 10.00. Suddenly naming the athletes that will represent Jamaica in Daegu is not as easy as 1, 2, 3.
Usain Bolt, barring injury, is a given. He’s easily Jamaica’s top sprinter and has the benefit, as the defending World Champion, of having a bye to Daegu. After that, however, there are seven men vying for three spots – and that’s if no one else emerges in the next few weeks! Powell and Carter have the best PR’s, but Carter, Blake, and Mullings have been improving the most over the last 12 months – and rapidly.
The pecking order should start getting defined this coming week with Bolt, Powell, Forsythe and Clarke scheduled to compete head to head in Rome. There Bolt’s health, Powell’s competitiveness and the fitness of Forsythe and Clarke will all be tested. These four will be able to measure themselves against the current standard set by Mullings.
Then in a few weeks time Jamaican sprinters will face the agony that American sprinters have faced in the past – potential finalists/medalists left home to watch the World Championships on television. A quality problem, but a painful one none the less.
I’ll give my thoughts on who I believe the sprinters heading to Daegu will be during the week I do my US Trials predictions.