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Olympic schedule says no Bolt triple

Published:Thursday | October 20, 2011 | 12:00 AM

Hubert Lawrence, Gleaner Writer

Are you still hoping to see Usain Bolt sprint into Olympic history with a 100-200-400 triple in London next year? Stop. The Olympic schedule for athletics makes the triple well nigh impossible and, while favouring the 100-200 and 200-400 doubles, it restricts another traditional combination.

Usain would really have to be superhuman to try the triple. He would start on day two with heats of the 400 metres at 10:35 a.m. local time and with the 100 heats at 12:30 p.m.

Day three would be a killer, with the 100 semi at 7:45 p.m., the 400 semi at 8:40 p.m. and the 100 final at 9:50 pm. After that, he'd have one race each day, with the 400 final on day four at 9:30 p.m. and a 200-metre race on consecutive days leading up to the final on day seven.

Add relay duty for the 4x400 final on day eight and the 4x100 final on day nine, and the tall man would have to run non-stop from day two to the end of the Games. It's a fair guess that it's not going to happen.

As is usually the case, the 100-200 double is manageable. The men's 100 ends on day three and the 200 starts on day five and, as it was in Daegu at the 2011 World Championships, the top people will run only three rounds.

The women's sprint double starts with the 100 on days one and two. Veronica Campbell-Brown (VCB) and the other likely doublers rest on day three and start the 200 on day four. Interestingly, if Allyson Felix of the USA chooses to do the 400-200 double again, she'll be running a race every day from day one to day six.

When VCB is resting on day three after a day two with semis and finals of the 100, Felix will be running the 400 final. In Daegu, that cost her the 200 world title she had held since 2005.

200-metre rivalry

Throw out the 2004 Olympics when Allyson Felix was just 18 and the history of the VCB-Felix 200-metre rivalry indicates that when they are equally rested or worn, the Jamaican wins. In the American's three world-title successes, VCB had run the 100 earlier. In the Beijing Olympics, both ran only the 200 and VCB won and, in Daegu, Felix was running the 400 while VCB was in the 100.

The stakes are high. A win for the Jamaican would make her the first to win three Olympic gold medals in the 200, while a Felix victory would put her atop the podium for the first time after two trips to the second-highest step ... looking up to Veronica.

Both have to be wary of Carmelita Jeter, who was second in the Daegu 200 after winning the 100, and others like Olympic silver and bronze medallist Kerron Stewart.

The London schedule makes one traditional double very difficult. The New Zealander Peter Snell and Kelly Holmes of Great Britain produced sensational 800-1500 doubles in 1964 and 2004. As recently as 2005, Rashid Ramzi of Bahrain won both events at the World Championships.

As was the case in Daegu, only a maniac would try that double in London. Both for women and men, the events overlap and interlock. For example, the men's 800 semi and the 1500 final are within two hours of each other on day five.

Perhaps the IAAF, the governing body for athletics, is trying to bring back the 400-800 double, done at the 1976 Olympics by Cuban icon Alberto Juantorena and at the first World Championships by Czech superwoman Jarmila Kratochvilova, in 1983.

Before Juantorena's 1976 success, Jamaica's Arthur Wint had the best record in the 400-800 double, winning gold and silver in 1948.

For the men, the only overlap is on day four when the 800 heats are at 10:50 a.m. and the 400 final comes at 9:30 p.m. It's a breeze for the women with three days' rest between the 400 final and 800 heats.

The 2012 Olympic athletics schedule answers one question emphatically and opens another. Question one: Will Bolt do the triple? ANSWER: NO. Question two: Will Felix double? No one knows the answer just yet.

Hubert Lawrence has covered athletics since 1987.