Foster's Fairplay | Rio women’s 100m will be hot
The Games of the XXXI Olympiad kicks off this weekend. It will be launched with an impressive menu of pomp and pageantry that is associated with any event that carries the prestige that the world class spectacle does.
A lot of respect will always be due to Jamaica's aquatics ambassador, the breaststroke specialist, Alia Atkinson, who will be seeking further glory by competing in her fourth Olympics, having started this historic journey at age 16.
That fully acknowledged and immeasurably appreciated on this forum, it is the athletics discipline on which there is the intensity of focus. One may add a heightened interest and even intrigue to that thought when the female sprints are brought into the equation.
USAIN BOLT INVINCIBLE
If one is to take his own words in a serious light - and there is a tradition to demand that they should be - Usain Bolt has claimed an invincibility that has to be respected. His public claim is that his present condition will not even allow his nemesis, American Justin Gatlin, into the building - let alone for the talkative Athens 2004 Olympics champion - to take a seat.
Only the lyrics belong to Foster's Fairplay. The tracks were laid by the Trelawny-born phenom, gifted to the world by the union of Jennifer and Wellesley.
Having thrown all that into the mix, this columnist must say that there is no recollection of a staging of arguably the world's greatest sporting spectacle, who has generated so much Jamaican enthusiasm, excitement and energy.
This is the age of social media - a viable dipstick to quantify the awesome acclaim and attention that has been attached to Rio 2016.
A highly respected Facebook friend, H.T., gives his views on the overwhelming show of effervescence as the Games appear in our sights. "History is on the line, Laurie Foster. Many great ones will come of age in Rio. The possibilities are mind-blowing," was his quick response when the question was posted.
One cannot be sure how much that "history" mentioned was trained on the women's 100m, which another Facebook user of the feminine gender, Charmaine, claimed "could go three ways".
These are some inescapable facts about probable contenders that should underpin any predictions.
1. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce is Jamaica's queen of sprinting (is it necessary to repeat 'inescapable'?) - a girl who sprung, almost unnoticed, from the section of the Waterhouse community known in times past as Varma Lands, in the Western St Andrew constituency. Rio beckons as her only opportunity to register an unprecedented three straight Olympic titles in the 100m, having had back-to-back triumphs in Beijing (2008) and London (2012). By her lofty standards, her 2016 times are modest as she totes the effects of a lingering toe injury.
2. Elaine Thompson, out of the district of Banana Ground in hilly Manchester, is Jamaica's new sprint sensation, and like Fraser-Pryce, with no significant impact at the junior level and also is coached by the sprint magician, Stephen Francis, at the MVP Track Club. With a season best of 10.84, she was denied entry to the 2015 Beijing World Championships - a move seen in many quarters to be protective of Fraser-Pryce's subsequent gold medal. A stunning world lead, area record and personal best, an unmolested, 10.70 at the Trials, is really all the credentials Fraser-Pryce needs for active consideration for the Rio gold medal.
3. Dafne Schippers bears the flag of the Netherlands, trying to re-establish Caucasian dominance of which the event has been bereft since the days of the girls from the Eastern Bloc, save for the fleeting passage of the Belarussian, Yulia Nesterenko, in Athens 2004. At 25 years old, she was third-ranked in the world then, and very little, if anything has been heard of her since, as she never enjoyed another single-digit ranking. Schippers seems to have conquered a poor start and has done a season best of 10.83, coupled with some strength-enhancing 22 lows over 200m that could tell in the late stages of the shorter sprint.
Others who bear consideration, given their season bests, are the USA's 1-2-3 trials finishers - English Gardner (10.74), Tianna Bartoletta and Tori Bowie, both at 10.78, plus the Ivory Coast's Muriel Ahoure, another 10.78 runner.
Rio 100m women is running hot.
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