Tue | Sep 19, 2017

Hubert Lawrence | 200m record in Rio?

Published:Thursday | August 18, 2016 | 8:00 AM

Ethiopian Almaz Ayanna, Anita Wlodarcyzk of Poland and South African Wayde van Niekerk have already revved up the Rio Olympics with wonderful world records in athletics.

Records are hard to predict, but all three delivered on their potential in the 10,000m, the hammer and the 400 metres, respectively.

Their respective records - 29 minutes, 17.45 seconds for Ayanna, 82.29 metres for Wlodarczyk and 43.03 seconds for van Niekerk - are all staggering.

In sprint focused Jamaica, van Niekerk's mark takes pride of place.

In addition, the diminutive Bahrani Ruth Jebet zoomed through the 3000-metre steeplechase in eight minutes, 59.75 seconds. That's the second-fastest time ever in the event. The world record - eight minutes, 58.58 seconds - wasn't too far away.

Jamaicans want Usain Bolt to get in on the act. As everybody knows, he is highly motivated by major championships. Of his five world records, only his first one was set away from Olympic or World Championship competition. That was his 2008 defeat of World Champion Tyson Gay of the United States, clocked in 9.72 seconds.

In the 200 metres, his fastest non-Olympic, non-World Championship time is 19.56 seconds. That performance was delivered on the eight-year-old pink Mondo track inside the National Stadium in 2010.

In the same vein, Bolt's best 200-metre times have all come in major championship finals. His world records of 19.19 and 19.30 seconds come readily to mind as they were done at the 2009 World Championships and the 2008 Olympics.

He repeated as Olympic champion in 2012, via a controlled run of 19.32 seconds and burned his rivals at the 2011 and 2015 World in 19.40 and 19.55 seconds, respectively.

So, if there is to be a record, history says it will be today in Rio.

There is one small note of caution. When he set his 200-metre records, he was running much faster in the 100 metres. When he ran 19.30 to win in 2008, his 100m was a famous world record 9.69. The numbers were 9.58 and 19.19 in 2009 and 9.63 and 19.32 in 2012.

Truth be told, he hasn't run the 100m faster than 9.70 seconds since 2012.

Despite all that mumbo-jumbo, he continues to speak of breaking the 19-second barrier and his fans are willing him on to excel once more in his favourite event.

They believe he can do it.

- Hubert Lawrence has made notes at track side since 1980.