Thu | May 25, 2017

Will it be Bolt or Gatlin?

Published:Saturday | August 22, 2015 | 8:00 AM
Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin

Andre: It's the big one. Usain Bolt vs Justin Gatlin with Asafa Powell and Tyson Gay hoping to have a say as well.

KC: This is like a heavyweight boxing match, and it's a pity this event is coming so early in the championships as things may deflate a bit after this.

Andre: Gatlin has set the pace this year. He is hungry and determined to make his point, but the signs are also positive for Bolt, whose only concern is his race rust. Still, I don't expect this to be a factor after the heats and semi. Bolt is fit and ready and has a higher ceiling than Gatlin and I'm now convinced its going to be hard to beat him here.

KC: We have heard about his performances in training but training and competition are two different things. Gatlin is also training well according to what I am hearing, but what matters most is the performance in competition and Gatlin has that.

Andre: No one is arguing with that, but we know that a fit Bolt is going to run low 9.6 and so far all we have seen from Gatlin is mid 9.7s - buck. He is going to have to go faster if he is going to beat THIS Bolt, because Bolt is ready to run 9.6 right now.

KC: The problem is that despite Gatlin running mid 9.7, no one has been close enough to him to push him so we don't know how much faster he can go, but with Bolt's class to test him we could see him going low 9.6. Remember that he's the only one to run below 9.8 over the past two years and he has done that four times already this year!

Andre: That's impressive but what's really important is Bolt's start because if he is close enough to Gatlin out of the blocks, his four sub 9.8s will mean very little. If Bolt is, however, two or more steps behind Gatlin after the gun, then he will struggle to pull him back.

KC: Bolt says his start has improved in training but this can be different when you line up against your rivals. Bolt cannot give away two metres at the start to Gatlin as his entire race has improved. Gatlin does his damage in the first 30m and his top-end speed has also got much better. Bolt will have to be with him at 80m if he is to beat him.

Andre: We agree on some of that, and it seems that Bolt himself knows he needs a good start. That's good. Both athletes are extremely motivated, but in the end Bolt's class and power will see him winning in relative comfort in the 9.61 to 9.65 range. Gatlin will make it interesting for 80m but will have to take the silver. He has a tendency to tighten up under pressure at the end of his races. We haven't seen that this year since he has not been put under pressure yet. I am giving Asafa the edge over Gay for the bronze medal.

KC: As a Jamaican, I want Bolt to win and most track fans want this as well, but I am not going to let sentiments get the better of me ...

Andre: No sentiments here, sir ... .

KC: ... Listen. Gatlin is in great form and although Bolt is a beast I think he is race rusty and it will show in the final, which I expect Gatlin to win in 9.68 seconds with Bolt second in 9.73. Third will be interesting between Powell and Gay, but I don't like how Gay has been silent, and it could be he is ready to unleash here and even surprise the big two.