By Robert Taylor, Special to TrackAlerts.Com
With the New York Diamond League Meeting, Adidas Grand Prix, upon us, one wonders what time Usain Bolt will run. So far it has been a Justin Gatlin show since 2014. For the first time since 2013, Bolt is not the top performer. We are seeing so much being said about Bolt and so little is seen. Those who want Bolt dominance have all the history to bring forward. For those who want a Gatlin victory have all the present performance to draw on. Bolt’s last race was won easily but the time did not sit well with some, even though the condition was not conducive for sprinters running fast times. With Bolt being 28 years of age, it is difficult to believe he has past his prime. This leaves me to believe that Gatlin will only give Bolt the challenge he says he needs to help him to focus and work harder.
Saturday June 13, 2015 will see the New York Icahn Stadium packed to capacity. The way things are in track and field, meet promoters are guaranteed sold out stadium once Bolt is on the cards. I remember the 2008 world record of 9.72 at this stadium. It was surreal. It was the first time for me sitting in a stadium and experiencing a 100m world record. At the time Tyson Gay was coming off a dominant 2007 season with a world championship treble (100m, 200m and 4x100m). I suspected Gay did not believe the 9.76 Bolt ran a few weeks before in Jamaica so he probably was as surprised as any, with Bolt’s new world record. That same year at the Beijing Olympics, Bolt made me realize for the first, that someone can jog fast. The quarter-final of the 100m was the easiest looking 9.92 I have ever seen an athlete display. I have never seen a slower looking fast time since. Probably, that first experience makes me have a nonchalant attitude when I see any athlete run above 9.92.
Anyway so much for the history of the Icahn Stadium and Usain Bolt. The thing for me is what time he runs in the 200m. For me, how he looks running the time says more than the time he runs. Taking nothing away from Gatlin, Bolt is the premier sprinter in my mind. I fail to believe that 9.58 and 19.19 is a standard he cannot achieve or surpass in the near future. If rumours are to be believed, Bolt’s World Championship performance should cause a lot of celebration for some, awe for others and dejection for some. We won’t be able to see a 2008 or 2009 like build up to the championship because unlike then, Bolt does not have to run at the Jamaica Trials at the latter part of this month to qualify. He is the defending champion in both the 100m and 200m. The rule is, the defending champions automatically qualify for the IAAF World Championships. This leaves me to wonder exactly what performance Bolt will show us on Saturday June 13. I would think that with a huge Jamaican fan base in New York, Bolt would want to run a 200m time that is satisfying to the fans while at the same time let the world know he is still the number one. Running anywhere in the 19.8’s would do wonders to his fans psyche.
It seems Bolt is concentrating on the 200m because so far, apart from the Brazil exhibition race, he has not run a 100m race all season. Thus the Adidas Meet can give us an indicator of where he is in terms of his lofty standard. I fail to mention the other athletes which gives the impression of me being dismissive of them. I do not want to sound dismissive but looking on past and some current performances, any race with Bolt, Blake, Asafa, Gatlin or Gay, generally there is no competitiveness with the other athletes. So far, I have not seen any other athlete with performance to match the big five when they are at their peak. Probably. next year the gap will close with a few of the younger upcoming sprinters.
When Bolt graces the Icahn Stadium track in New York on Saturday night, I will sit and think of what it will be like. Unfortunately I got caught up in family matters and forget to reserve my seat at the Stadium. I will sit by my television and make my observation. At this point in the season, the unknown leading up to this World Championships seemingly provides more intrigue than usual with marquee events 100m and 200m to some extent. The questions are all centered around whether Bolt will be the Bolt the world have come to expect. If Bolt is being Bolt, the question will be who will take up the other two medal positions but that will be for another discussion.
**The views expressed in this article are those of the author (Robert Taylor) and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, trackalerts.com.