It's anybody's race - Boldon predicts unclear 100m picture at CWG 2018
There's no clear favourite for the men's 100 metre at the Commonwealth Games in Australia. That's the view of Ato Boldon, who won that title in 1998 for Trinidad and Tobago. Boldon brands that event as wide open, but believes that 2017 World Championships bronze medallist Jereem Richards will prevail in the 200 metres.
"Tthe 100 is wide open and I think if you guess the winner, you're probably going to be wrong," said Boldon.
Even though Jamaica's 2011 World 100 metre champion Yohan Blake and South African Akani Simbine were fourth and fifth in last year's IAAF World Championships, Boldon analysed, "Yes you have to consider (Yohan) Blake, but Blake has not been on a podium recently and yes (Akani) Simbine - the Africans are ready early and I think that benefits them."
Blake and Simbine share the fastest time among the sprinters entered for the Commonwealth 100 metres at 10.05 seconds. However, while the Jamaican's 10.05 was done at low altitude in Kingston, Simbine did his in the thin air of Pretoria.
Noting fast early season times from South Africa, Boldon noted, "If I had to pick, I would say one of the Africans, because the Africans really, this is their time of year, whereas people from our hemisphere tend to be getting ready for a little later."
The entrants also include England's Adam Gemili, who was second to Jamaica's Kemar Bailey-Cole in 2014.
Boldon, whose 1998 winning time of 9.88 seconds remains the Games record, senses that an outsider could win.
"It's kind of race where if I went to sleep for a week and you told me some name that maybe I wasn't expecting won, I wouldn't be surprised", he estimated. "I just feel the winner of this race may be someone who hasn't won a major before."
For the man who took the 200m at the 1997 World Championships, the picture in that event is much clearer.
Boldon gives Richards pole position.
"Jereem made a believer of me not just with that race but in the 4x400m as well", he recalled of Richards' 43.4 second relay run for Trinidad and Tobago in the four lap relay last year.
"That leg that he ran to me essentially was the critical leg that got us the world title, so I see no reason to think that anyone is going to beat Jereem for this 200 metre title", Boldon previewed. While Richards zoomed through the London chill at the Worlds, Jamaica's 2014 Commonwealth gold and silver medal winners Rasheed Dwyer and Warren Weir were eliminated early.
Clarence Munyai, Luxolo Adams and Anaso Jobodwana of South Africa sit atop the 2018 world performance list in the 200 metres. 2017 World Under 18 champion Munyai, Adams and 2015 World bronze medallist Jobodwana have done times of 19.69, 20.01 and 20.07 seconds respectively. Richards has clocked 20.27 seconds this year but may know that the South African record time by Munyai was set in the high altitude of Pretoria.
Zharnel Hughes, a 2015 World finalist, is also in the hunt for England. The Anguilla native has run 20.23 seconds into a headwind in March.