André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
The looks on their faces after their respective 100m finals on Friday night said it all; uncertainty and disappointment replacing pre-race swagger, because when the dust had settled inside the National Stadium, the foundation of Jamaica's sprinting hierarchy was left in tatters.
Triple Olympic champion and world-record holder Usain Bolt and Jamaica's sprint darling Veronica Campbell-Brown were licking their wounds after Yohan Blake and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce stole the headlines in the marquee event at the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association/Supreme Ventures Limited National Senior Championships.
In a galaxy of sprinting stars which Jamaica showcases to the world, Bolt and Campbell-Brown have shone brightest in the past five years, despite superlative performances from a host of others.
Two days have passed since the defeats and as far as Bolt and Campbell-Brown are concerned, there is a score to settle.
Dominance must be protected and with the Olympic Games just a few weeks away, a win or loss will bear considerable psychological value beyond Jamaica's shores.
make a statement
With the 200m final set to bring down the curtains on the four-day Olympic trials this evening, the pair of Bolt and Campbell-Brown - again considered favourites - will be looking to make a statement and tip the scales back in their favour. In the men's 100m final, Bolt was left in the blocks - distracted
by a twitch from another athlete in his peripheral view - and despite a near-heroic effort, his recovery fell just short, as his second-place 9.86 run meant that his protégé-turned-main-threat, Yohan Blake, was the one with the right to celebrate.
It was Bolt's first defeat to the younger Blake and also the first time that the 200m world champion was losing on local soil in the 100m - his third 100m loss overall.
"It's just one of those things," said Bolt after the defeat. "I just have to get ready for the 200m."
And 'get ready' he must because it's shaping up to be another close one for Bolt, with Blake being the only athlete to come remotely close to his 19.19 200m world record, with a blistering 19.26 run of his own at the back end of last season.
Add to that the fact that Bolt, who is "not 100 per cent" according to Glen Mills, the man who coaches both sprinters, has not featured in a competitive 200m before the start of the trials.
Both athletes progressed without trouble to the semi-finals and marched into the finals with ease yesterday evening.
Blake won his heat in a comfortable 19.93 while Bolt shut down metres from the line but still finished in 20.25.
"It's all about qualifying. I didn't want to get lane three and I'm glad they ran faster than me because they will get the lower lanes," said Bolt after his semi-final.
"It was a good overall race. I felt good on the corner. I haven't run one (200m) in a while. I'm feeling all right," the World and Olympic champion added.
Campbell-Brown could barely find words to describe her 100m defeat to Fraser-Pryce on Friday, the second consecutive Olympic trials that she is finishing behind MVP's 'pocket rocket'.
After getting through the 200m semi-finals with a 22.79 victory last night, Campbell-Brown told reporters, " I feel real good. The objective was to advance to the finals and I'm happy that I achieved that."
Later, Fraser-Pryce clocked 22.55, to win her semi-final and set the stage for a cracker today.
Four years ago, Fraser-Pryce's inclusion in the 100m team to the Beijing Olympics was a bit of a pre-championships talking point, with some fans calling for the then inexperienced sprinter to be sacrificed for Campbell-Brown, who had finished fourth and outside of the spots for individual places.
Fraser-Pryce silenced her critics then with an Olympic gold medal and she did likewise on Friday night, showing that she has added speed endurance to her explosive start - leading from start to finish and belittling an exceptional field with a national record 10.70 run.
Campbell-Brown was second in 10.82.
"I'm just happy I made it to the Olympics," summed up Campbell-Brown's post-race analysis; but she is a fighter, a champion and she will be looking to set things right in the 200m - that is, after all, her domain, having won two Olympic and one World Championships gold medals in the event.
Competitive lines have been drawn, and before they travel to London as teammates, here in Kingston's heat, it's every man or woman for themselves.