The calm of this male 100m sprint season compare to the storm of the next three years.
By Robert Taylor, Special to TrackAlerts.com
This season we are seeing the revaluation of Justin Gatlin, the coming back trail of Asafa Powell and Tyson Gay, the injury of Yohan Blake and of course the constant complaint of age by Usain Bolt. With the age issue, it is funny how people have different perception of age relative to the athlete in question. For example, many see Bolt days of 9.58 and 19.19 as over because he has passed his prime. This thought process is probably enhanced by Bolt constantly decrying how hard it is recover from things he once would recover from easily.
On the other hand, there is Justin Gatlin who is 32 years and 6 months, recently running his lifetime best over the 200m while dominating the 100m scene for all of 2014. Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell are both 32 years of age also. You have three 32 years getting less attention about age being a factor for performance in comparison to Bolt who incidentally will be 28 on August 23. Yes, these guys are four years his senior yet Bolt talk as if he is old. Most athletes would see their late 20’s as the years they would be at their highest peak. Bolt seems to think or believe otherwise. The only one younger is Blake but with two season of major injuries one wonder if he should not be the one talking about age since he is having a difficult time keeping health.
With the age discussion of these athletes, it shows the lack of quality young athletes in their mid twenties. This age group is where you usually find the soon to be next great one or the ones who are pecking at the heels of the dominant sprinter (s). Many see the high quality performance of Bolt as the reason why these guys seem weaker than they actually are. This point would have been valid if these athletes were the next in line for medals. No one I know even consider another athlete outside of Bolt, a healthy Blake, Gatlin, Gay and Asafa. Sad to say but it seem to me the next big sprinter will be coming from another generation of sprinters. This group is generally 21 or younger
So far, what we are seeing is that if Bolt turn up in great form he is going to win. In addition, if Gatlin, Powell and Gay turn up in great form they are going to fight each other for the lesser medals. I purposely did not mention Blake because of his injuries and I doubt he will heal and find his top form by next world championship. I hope I am wrong but I doubt it very much. The young talent coming out of USA, the Bromell , Friday and Bracy, from Jamaica, Ashmeade, Bailey-Cole, Brown and whoever transition from the high school system, in England, there is Adam Gemili, and I will add 22 year Jimmy Vicaut from France. These guys are the future, assuming Bolt retires after the three years because he truly finds the training as too hard for him. Nevertheless, if Blake recovers and achieve his peak performance level, I wonder who out of this group will rise to his level to make the sprints a competitive event instead of a one-man show like it is at this time. Bolt with his charismatic personality makes it interesting to the fan. Blake is no Bolt when it comes to charisma and flamboyancy. It is not a deficiency of Blake, it is just that Bolt is an athlete of iconic status. His whole package will be insurmountable to duplicate or surpass right after he leave the competitive scene.
If history were to be our guide, it is quite possible we might experience an unexpected turn of events. Take for instance the years of 2007 and 2008. How many expected Tyson Gay to be the world champion over Asafa Powell in 2007? After the end of the 2007 season who saw Bolt rise coming for 2008? How many expected Tyson Gay to fall under Bolt’s shadow? How many see the USA dominance of the male sprints being usurped byJamaica? The answer to all questions is not many or very few saw it happening before it happened. The next question is, do you see the athlete to rise and challenge the aging leaders? I have not seen anyone so far.
Therefore, the aging Bolt and the ageless, Gatlin, Gay and Asafa (if we are to believe perception) might see a rise of one or a few of the next in line sprinters. It is possible but based on what is happening so far, it is tough to believe. The USA even has it worse. They have no young sprinter who seems remotely able to challenge Gatlin or Gay for the US supremacy. I guess this situation will give the British hope that Gemili might rise to duplicate his junior championship performance at the senior level. Something they have not seen for a long time.
Next Year more than likely we will see the new season like a storm rising out of the Caribbean Sea. The runaway train of Gatlin might be blown away by the surging wind of Bolt and Gay alike and if fate have it any other way, Asafa Powell might be part of that storm.
**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.