Wed | Oct 17, 2018

Hubert lawrence | No 200m in London for Bolt?

Published:Thursday | October 13, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Jamaica’s Usain Bolt (right) looks to his right at Canada’s Andre DeGrasse during the men’s 200 metres semi-final during athletics competition inside the Olympic stadium at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Wednesday, August 17, 2016.

It's hard to conceive of a 2017 World Championship with Usain Bolt running just the 100 metres. Maybe he's spoilt us all by doing both the 100m and 200m for all these years and winning almost everything over both distances.

Given that the 200m is his favourite event, his event choice for 2017 is even more baffling.

If he skips the 200m in London, his stated goal of breaking 19 seconds will fall by the wayside.

To tell you the truth, I secretly imagined something really fast was on the cards at this summer's Rio Olympics after his 200m semi-final. An easy-looking effort produced his fastest time ever at that stage of the competition - 19.78 seconds. Sadly, rain splashed the track before the final.

Forty years earlier at the Montreal Olympics, the same thing happened to Don Quarrie (DQ). DQ might have made a run at the world record, but pre-race rain narrowed his focus to simply winning.

Faced with the same circumstances in Rio de Janeiro this summer, Bolt produced another run of 19.78 seconds to complete the double for the third time.




Conventional wisdom once postulated that as he got older, the wear and tear of running the 100m would force the great man up in distance. He has resisted that theory resolutely, but 2017 might be the time for him to change.

In addition, it wouldn't hurt Jamaica if Bolt didn't use the world champion's wild card selection to run the 100m in London since Asafa Powell, the 2016 Diamond League 100m winner, would inherit his automatic spot in the draw.

Diamond League winners, like reigning World Champions, can receive wild card selections to the next World Championships. The catch is that countries with a World Champion and a Diamond League winner in the same event must choose just one to compete.

Whenever Jamaica has had this dilemma, the World Champion has always gotten the nod.

Jamaica would still have the right to have four men run the 100m in London, with Powell using the Diamond winner's wildcard and three others qualifying at the National Senior Championships.

If Bolt chooses to run only the 200m in London next year, it may suit him. It would eliminate the event where the margins for error are the thinnest. It might also mitigate a source of the injuries he has suffered.

The bright side is that the 30-year sprint king would reach the 200m fresh. If his training goes well, Bolt would have a chance to break a world record in his last individual championship race.

There could be no grander exit from athletics than that.

• Hubert Lawrence has made notes at trackside since 1980.