Wed | Aug 15, 2018

Follow the Trace | Bolt will dominate boring sprints in Rio

Published:Tuesday | July 26, 2016 | 12:00 AM

A collective sigh of relief followed the successful return of the world's fastest man to the track, confirming his fitness heading into the Rio Olympics.

With that relief comes the underlying reality that the impressive 19.89 clocking in London over 200m is also an indication that the highlight sprint events in Rio will end in predictable and boring victories for the defending champion, Usain Bolt.

It's a simple fact. A healthy and motivated Bolt will be impossible to beat in Rio. Bolt's high-profile withdrawal from the Jamaican trials, which followed his customary trip to Europe to see the 'magic' German doctor Hans-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt never fazed this columnist one bit.

My impression was that Bolt was only marginally injured and was simply dancing through the raindrops created by the medical exemption rule.

If it was a case that the Jamaican selection rules mandated him to run both the 100m and 200m events at the trails in order to make the team to Rio, Bolt would have run, and he would have won both events.

As far as his overall readiness goes, his erudite coach, Glen Mills said it clearly: the sprint superstar simply needs to be fully prepared for the 100m and he will also be unbeatable in the 200m.

That points to how dominant he is in his pet event.

Bolt's naturally superior speed and power make him better equipped to compensate for any technical imperfections that arise in his race execution in the longer sprint, which makes the fact that he is heading into Rio with only one 200m race under his belt for the entire season of little or no concern.

If you really consider Bolt's 19.89 run in London and the fact that his first 200m race in Rio will come after he competes in the 100m rounds and final, he could easily run himself into 19.4 or 19.3 shape by the time the 200m final comes around.




Despite the little exchange of words between Bolt and the Americans Justin Gatlin and Mike Rogers over his withdrawal from the Jamaican trials, following comments, which Bolt said made him feel "disrespected", the magnitude of the sprint clashes that await has diminished compared to last year in the build-up to the World Championships.

The way now seems crystal clear for Bolt to easily defend all his sprint titles.

History suggests that Bolt performs best when his dominance is threatened, but he is far enough ahead of his peers to beat them all with minimal motivation.

With no credible threat on the horizon going into these Olympic Games, Justin Gatlin's choke and subsequent defeat in the 100m in Beijing last year now looks like a monumental loss of opportunity to extend the only credible semblance of a worthwhile rivalry between himself and Bolt.

With the prospect of this being his farewell Olympics, the double-defending sprint double champion and world record holder is in no mood for taking chances and should be easy and unchallenged in victory.

I would have personally preferred to witness a spectacle, instead of a procession, which I suspect it will be for Usain Bolt in Rio.