viernes, 18 de enero de 2013

2009-12 REVIEW. Men 100m, 200m, 4x100m




Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake at the 2012 Olympic Games 200m final
Harry How/ Getty Images Europe
www.zimbio.com

2008 was a landmark year in sprinting events. It was the year Usain Bolt produced his colossal breakthrough at Beijing Olympic Games, beating effortlessly the fastest men in the world and claiming the world record at the 100m final, in spite of slowing down once he had secured the victory, and also erasing from the record books the superhuman mark of 19.32 which Michael Johnson had achieved in Atlanta-96 at the 200m distance. Yet, significantly, those Olympic Games were not only the scenario of the prowess of an individual but also of the whole Jamaican team, which sensationally dominated all four pure sprinting events at stake, defeating in each occasion the USA, the traditional powerhouse of the specialty.  Because of the unbelievable achievements of Lightning Bolt, the succesful defense of Veronica Campbell-Brown at the women’s 200m and even the historical swept of the whole 100m podium by Shelly-Ann Fraser, Kerron Stewart and Sherone Simpson were overshadowed. The Caribbean country went home with no less than 6 gold medals, a feat which marked the beginning of its athletic supremacy.
            After such groundbreaking demonstration, the question was if Jamaica would be able of keeping its sprinting stardom all along the new Olympic cycle, or, on the contrary, the rest of the world, specially the well-defeated North Americans, would put the means to face Bolt and company and strike back. Four years later, the answer is Jamaica continues dominating the most emblematic athletic event, the 100m, and also remains at the top at the other sprint distance, the 200m. Only the fabulous Allyson Felix, with her victory at the latter event, avoided a new swept of the gold medals by their Caribbean neighbours at the 2012 London Olympic Games. Bolt defended majestically both individual titles and also the one at the 4x100m relay, and so did Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce. If in Beijing we had seen a clean swept of the female’s 100m podium, in London, Bolt, his dolphin Yohan Blake and newcomer Warren Weir got all the medals at the male’s 200m final. 
            Four years ago, Jamaica dominated in quality, in medal number, while The United States still had the consolation of its superior depth. However, by 2012, Jamaica has considerably reduced this gap to the point they have almost matched their archrivals, at least in the men’s side. Between 2005-2008, USA’s 23 male representatives at the top-50 scored 696 points at the 100m, against the 347 points amassed by the 6 Jamaican athletes ranked. Now between 2009-2012, USA just wins 597 to 526, with Jamaica doubling up the number of top-50 athletes from 6 to 12. In similar fashion, at the 200m event, the United States which controlled the ranking in the former Olympic cicle with 768 points against 279 of Jamaica, are currently witnessing how their neighbours are getting closer and closer (668 to 507 points).   See TEAMS RANKING

In the Caribbean island, more and more talented youngsters are taking the spotlight, hoping to succeed one day national heroes Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell or Veronica Campbell-Brown. In recent years, rising athletes as Nickel Ashmeade, Warren Weir, Mario Forsythe, Jason Young or Kemar Bailey Cole have shone internationally, alongside veterans Bolt, Powell, Carter and Frater, and the list of new names has no end. And among all, the 100m World Champion in Daegu, the outstanding Yohan Blake, who has dared to challenge the same almighty Bolt. Track and field is being handled so masterfully in Jamaica that even arguably the best sprinter ever could find a valid heir before retirement. Solid young female sprinters are trying to be an alternative to the consolidated stars as well but their contribution have been much more modest than their male counterparts Blake, Weir or Ashmeade. Simone Facey has stagnated and Anneisha McLaughlin, Schillonie Calvert, Carrie Russell, Samantha Henry or Jura Levy, thought all of them excellent sprinters, have failed for the moment to reach the heights of recent Olympic medallists as Veronica, Shelly-Ann or Kerron. As an indication, in spite of having lowered their game lately, Kerron Stewart, Sherone Simpson and even big veteran Aleen Bailey have had no troubles in making the national team for last World Championships and Olympics, against those youngsters.   Maybe we will have to wait for the awesome 15th-year-old Shauna Helps, who has not lost yet a race in Champs in three years and is already a Carifta Games gold medallist. Incidentally, Shauna comes from Wolmer’s High, which is Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce’s former school.  

Kerron Stewart, Shelly-Ann Fraser and Carmelita Jeter competing in Zurich in 2009
Jamie McDonald/ Getty Images Europe
www.zimbio.com

          Anyway, there is no doubt Jamaica is the driving force in current sprinting world. Many accusations of enhancing drug use have been adressed to Jamaican athletes to explain their phenomenal success. Specially, critical voices sustain Usain Bolt’s performances and the way he has demolished the existing records are not possible without testosterone and steroids.  Well, it is true there have been several doping positives in the last years in both USA’s and Jamaica’s sides, including Berlin Worlds 200m finalist Steve Mullings’, who got a life ban. Notwithstanding we can not forget Usain Bolt is no less than a genius, such talented athlete you can see only one like him in a century, someone who had already run the 200m event in 20.13 when he was sixteen, and he has also been guided masterfully by his coach Glenn Mills since he turned pro. Traditionally, Jamaican talent used to be spotted by USA agents to be drove to their colleges. Asafa Powell and hurdler Brigitte Foster-Hylton set the precedent of ignoring foreign offers and staying in Jamaica to study and develop a professional track and field career with the at the time scarcely-known coach Stephen Francis in MVP Track Club. Since then many Jamaican runners have opted to join either Francis or Glenn Mills at Racers Track Club and now the island has a solid reputation for its world class coaching. Now Jamaican runners do not need anymore to travel abroad to have good training but instead foreign athletes are attired to develop their athletic career in Jamaica.
It is important to understand too that in Jamaica, as in Kenya or Ethiopia, track and field is the king of sports. Every kid dreams of escaping a tough life to become the new Usain Bolt. Besides, and unlike in Kenya or Ethiopia, because of more than 100 years of experience, there is a  well established organisation of track and field. Let us say no public or private sector in the life of the country works better than athletics. There is not anywhere in the world an sportive event as Champs, which has been staged for over a century to make compete the high school boys and girls of all the country under an enthusiastic crowd of 30.000 spectators. Participating in Champs and getting used since young age to challenging competition and huge pressure is arguably the most important reason behind Jamaican athletic success. It is the same for those like Bolt or Blake who set records at Champs or those like Veronica Campbell and Shelly-Ann Fraser who struggled to make a name for themselves there. All of them learned a good lesson at Champs. Often the inability of Asafa Powell to face the pressure of a major championship is explained for his lack of experience at Champs: he belonged to a small school and only once got the opportunity to participate in the most renowned high school track and field event in the world.   http://moti-athletics-200-w.blogspot.com.es/

Before the arrival of Bolt the fastest man on Earth was Tyson Gay
Photo AP
http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2012/07/19/london-olympics-athletes

When Usain Bolt, a 200m-400m runner asked his coach Glenn Mills to get him ready for the 100m event for Beijing Olympics he broke many people expectations. Such a tall man was not supposed to have coordination and agility enough to handle a short sprint but Usain was never the average guy. Also this practice of the 100m distance helped the Jamaican to be faster for his main event: the 200m. The first athlete affected for this transformation of Usain Bolt in superhuman performer in Beijing was Tyson Gay, who had been no less than IAAF athlete of the year in 2007, after claiming three world titles in Osaka. Besides, Gay was and still is the last man who had beaten Bolt in a major competition, what he did at the 200m in those World championships.  Gay’s hamstring injury prevented him from competing at his best in Beijing. Indeed, after the stratospheric three world records of Usain Bolt at the Olympic Games, very few people could remember the outstanding US performer who had claimed so amazingly the distinction of best sprinter in the world just one year ago. Nevertheless, Tyson Gay stated he still had the capacity to beat Bolt and his records and he went for it at the 2009 Berlin World Championships. During the summer, Gay had set impressive new PBs at the 100m (9.77 NR) and the 200m (19.58) and there were high expectations about his real chances of facing the new God of track and field.

          At the 100m final in Berlin, we witnessed the clash of the three best sprinters in the world at the top of their powers: Tyson Gay ran the distance in 9.71, only two hundredths of a second slower than Bolt in Beijing. On the other hand, Asafa, without the pressure of being the favourite, did arguably his best ever in a major competition (9.84).  Unfortunately, both amazing performances were useless before the power of Usain Bolt who ran the distance in 9.58! Undoubtely it was one of the best quality field 100m ever with also two other Caribbean athletes in 9.93 at the line: Bolt’s teanmate in Racers Track Club Daniel Bailey from Antigua and Beijing silver medallist Richard Thompson from Trinidad and Tobago. Gay did not start at the 200m citing tiredness and missed a second demonstration of Lightning Bolt, who improved his own world record from 19.30 to 19.19! finishing a world ahead of Panamanian revelation Alonso Edwards and experienced US sprinters Wallace Spearmon and Shawn Crawford, who anyway dipped all of them under 20 seconds. Usain closed his amazing championships with his third gold medal alongside his Jamaican mates in the 4x100m relay, ahead of Trinidad and Tobago, which collected its third siver in the last four major competitions, and Great Britain.   
With Usain Bolt competing sparingly in the transitional year of 2010, US runners Tyson Gay and Walter Dix dominated the season. Gay who had established a new national record in the last stages of the 2009 campaign (9.69) beat handily Bolt in Brussels. Yet both Gay and Dix would be hinder again by their recurring injuries in following seasons. Maybe it was more significant the expected breakthrough of French sprinter Christophe Lemaître, world junior gold medallist in 2008 and european junior champion one year later, setting a new age continental record. Lemaître won gold at the 100m, 200m and at the 4x100m relay at the senior European Championships and also snatched a victory at the Continental Cup over 100m. He received notorious publicity after becoming the fastest white man ever, beating the 10.00 mark the Polish Marian Woronin had set in 1984 and, more importantly, becoming the first in breaking the 10 seconds barrier. It was just the same year Chris Solinsky beat another “race” record, running the 10.000m under 27 minutes, thought Lemaître has been much more consistent than him afterwards. Interestingly, the Frenchman, in the same way than Usain Bolt, has not a good start but is a really strong finisher, he has a speed endurance which make him more a 200m specialist. Lemaître has since easily dominated the European scene, at least after Netherland Antilles athletes as Churandy Martina were forced to compete for the Netherlands. Nevertheless, Christophe had to learn a lesson when he remained sitting dejected after his defeat at the 2011 continental indoor championships final, and Francis Obikwelu and Dwain Chambers, the old warriors who had upset the young French star came to console him. Chambers is still going strong as proved his big victory at the 2010 World Indoors at the 60m distance. Yet strangely, he and Christian Malcolm has not found a valid relay in the British Team in the last years. National fans hope the arrival of Adam Gemili, world junior champion in the Olympic year, is going to end up with this crisis. Also watch up for the last sprinting sensation at Jamaican Champs: Delano Williams from the overseas British territory Turk and Caicos.
 
Dwain Chambers - European Athletics Indoor Championships - Day Three
Dwain Chambers, Brian Mariano, Christophe Lemaître and Francis Obikwelu compete at the 2011 European indoors
Stu Forster/ Getty Images Europe
www.zimbio.com
Chambers is an example of longevity as it is Darvis Patton, who made the 2009 and 2011 US national teams well in his thirty, but this is nothing to compare to Saint Kitts and Nevis’ 2003 World champion Kim Collins, who got to win the bronze medal at 35 at the hotly contested 100m World Championship in Daegu, and some days later came through again to snatch another still more surprising bronze at the 4x100m relay, along with Antoine Adams, BJ Lawrence and Jason Rogers. Sadly this athlete was withdrawn for his athletic federation at London Olympic Games for disciplinary reasons.
 
The greatest surprise in Daegu was however Usain Bolt’s disqualification at the 100m final for a false start. Was he too confident and lacked concentration? Perhaps. Anyway it was big news and restarted the debate about this controversial rule. In a final without Bolt and without the injured Powell and Gay, Yohan Blake confirmed his irresistible rising, winning the race in a 9.92 PB, against strong headwind. Usain made amends defending his 200m gold in an excellent clocking of 19.40 and helping Jamaica to break the 4x100 world record, along with Blake, Nesta Carter and Michael Frater, anchoring the team in 37.04. For the third time in a row, the improvised USA team failed to finish the race for lack of coordination in baton exchanges. Yet, before that, its best sprinter in Daegu, Walter Dix, had obtained two silver medals at the individual events, proving what he is capable of when he is healthy.  Lemaître also performed exceptionally winning bronze in a national record at the 200m, holding Norway’s Jaysuma Saidy Ndure, and finishing just out of the medals at the 100m, in a race where there was a second French representative, the junior athlete Jimmy Vicaut. France was also succesful at the 4x100 relay, winning the silver medal, though more than one second behind the impressive Jamaicans.  

  2011 was a exceptional year in the 100m event with an incredible depth: no less than 20 men dipped under the 10 second barrier, the best figure ever, which was followed by “only” 19 in the Olympic year.  Maybe the effort for reaching Bolt had pushed his competitors to the limit. Yet, Yohan Blake, the national junior record holder when he clocked 10.11 at Carifta in 2007 and also the man who has run fastest at Champs, was clearly the closest to beat Bolt. And Blake really raised everybody’s eyebrows, still more than in his golden race in Daegu, when he ran two weeks later the 200m distance at the Ivo Van Damme meeting in 19.26! the second best performance ever: better than Michael Johnson in Atlanta and Bolt in Beijing and just 7 hundredths out of Usain’s world record in Berlin. Afterwards, specialists relativized some this extraordinary mark stating that Brussels has the fastest curves in the circuit because about 15cm longer, and also it is worth to know that, unlike Blake, Bolt had run seven races in Berlin before his 200m world record.

Anyway, not knowing anymore who was best, because they trained together under Glenn Mills but avoided each other during the whole season in the Diamond League circuit, comparisons and speculations abounded: for example, Blake was the product of hard work while Bolt was sheer talent, a man who did not care about nutrition and trained no more than what was strictly necessary to win at Worlds and Olympics. Whatever it is, no one can deny that even if Bolt performances during the year can be a little erratic, he is a serious professional who always arrives to majors 100% fitted, in world record shape. When eventually the two Race Track Club stars clashed at the Olympic Trials, Blake got the better of Bolt in both 100m and 200m. Was it a sign of Bolt’s decline? Of course not: the man who had won three Olympic gold in Beijing stated that it would not be the same in London, that in the Olympics we would see the best Bolt!  

Antoine Adams, Kim Collins, Jason Rogers and Brijesh Lawrence at the podium, after winning a historical bronze medal at the 2111 World Championships in Daegu, at the 4x100m relay for Saint Kitts and Nevis
http://www.sknlist.com/sports/20110904.html
If there was not enough quality for London Olympic Games, another fearsome sprinter had been invited to the party: the returned Justin Gatlin. Four years out of the track for his second doping offence, the 2004 Olympic champion was in outstanding form that season: after grabbing the gold medal during the winter at the World Indoor championships, Gatlin had won the national olympic trials in 9.80 over Tyson Gay. Walter Dix was out due to injury but a young rising star, Ryan Bailey, who had run the distance in 9.88 back in 2010, was in the comeback trail and up for grabs.  Eventually, with Lemaître choosing to concentrate in his best event, all eight finalists at the 100m were American-born: all three Jamaicans: Bolt, Blake and Powell, all three US sprinters: Gatlin, Gay and Bailey, Richard Thompson from Trinidad and Churandy Martina, back to his best after some dissapointed years, who had recently won the 200m at the European Championships and also led the Dutch 4x100m relay to another gold. As he had announced, in the decisive moment Lightning Bolt drove his best. Althought not a world record, his run of 9.63 was mighty enough to win handily over Blake, Gatlin and the two other US representatives. Everybody in the final dipped under 10.00, except Powell who finished injured.
The 200m were about the same story but in the final race there was only one USA athlete after both the double NCAA champion Maurice Mitchell and Trials surprise Isiah Young had failed in their semi-finals. Jamaica was favoured again for gold and silver with Bolt and Blake and they lived up to the expectations amazingly with outstanding clockings of 19.32 for the Lightning and 19.44 for the Beast. Besides, new kid in town Warren Weir proved why he had taken the last qualifying spot, leaving no less than Daegu’s 5th placer Nickel Ashmeade at home. Thus he took the bronze medal to complete an impressive and somewhat unexpected all-Jamaican podium. Wallace Spearmon and Churandy Martina, who had lost their medals in Beijing for lane invasion, finished again out of the podium and a dissapointing Christophe Lemaître could only handle a sixth place. On the other hand, the young surprising finalists, Alex Quiñónez from Ecuador and Anaso Jobodwana from South Africa were well satisfied of being there.
The same winning quartet from Daegu with Carter, Frater, Blake and Bolt improved on his one year world record to end up the Games in style in 36.84. This time around though they were well challenged by the US team, which eventually got to make it to the line and they did it in a new national record (37.04), also equalling the former world record. Trinidad and Tobago won another collective medal to complete the podium and show they are a real force in the event. No less than six athletes from this country make our 100m top-50, including Richard Thompson, 9.86-man Keston Bledman, Marc Burns and Daegu 200m finalist Rondell Sorrillo. France, Japan, the Netherlands and Australia finished all of them less than 3 hundredths off the bronze medal, with the Canadian disqualified team hoping for more. Saint Kitts and Nevis without Collins did not make the final, despite improving the national record they had set in Daegu for bronze. Neither did Brazil, Italy, who had been in both Berlin and Daegu’s finals and another outstanding European teams as Great Britain, Germany and Poland. Such was the depth of the field. Surprisingly no African team got to travel to London in a moment traditional powerhouses as Nigeria and Ghana have little to offer and the best specialists in the continent come from countries like Ivory Coast (Ben Youssef Meité), South Africa (Simon Magakwe) or Egypt (Amr Seoud). On the other hand, Asia qualified no less than three teams: Japan, China and the small country of Hong Kong. In the precedent major championship in Daegu they had done even better with also Taiwan, India, South Korea and Thailand meeting the qualifying standard. Notwithstanding,  no individual Asian sprinter has got to face the best in the world in a global championship in the last seasons, a situation which is likely to change with the arrival to senior ranks of athletes like Shota Iizuka, the 2010 World junior champion at the 200m, and the brand new world youth record holder Yoshihide Kiryu.
 
 
  Men's100m     Men's200m     Men's4x100m  
                 
1
Usain Bolt 
JAM
 
1
Usain Bolt 
JAM
 
1
Jamaica 
JAM
2
Yohan Blake 
JAM
 
2
Yohan Blake 
JAM
 
2
Trinidad & Tobago
TRI
3
Tyson Gay 
USA
 
3
Wallace Spearmon 
USA
 
3
France
FRA
4
Justin Gatlin 
USA
 
4
Walter Dix 
USA
 
4
United States
USA
5
Asafa Powell 
JAM
 
5
Warren Weir 
JAM
 
5
Japan 
JPN
6
Ryan Bailey 
USA
 
6
Christophe Lemaître
FRA
 
6
Canada
CAN
7
Walter Dix 
USA
 
7
Tyson Gay
USA
 
7
Italy
ITA
8
Richard Thompson 
TRI
 
8
Churandy Martina
NED
 
8
Great Britain
GBR
9
Christophe Lemaître 
FRA
 
9
Nickel Ashmeade 
JAM
 
9
Netherlands
NED
10
Daniel Bailey 
ANT
 
10
Alonso Edward
PAN
 
10
Saint Kitts & Nevis
SKN
11
Nesta Carter 
JAM
 
11
Jaysuma Ndure
NOR
 
11
Germany
GER
12
Churandy Martina 
NED
 
12
Maurice Mitchell
USA
 
12
Australia
AUS
13
Michael Frater 
JAM
 
13
Rondell Sorrillo
TRI
 
13
Brazil
BRA
14
Kim Collins 
SKN
 
14
Alex Quiñónez
ECU
 
14
Poland
POL
15
Dwight Chambers 
GBR
 
15
Marvin Anderson
JAM
 
15
China
CHN
16
Darvis Patton 
USA
 
16
Jason Young
JAM
 
16
Switzerland
SUI
17
Keston Bledman 
TRI
 
17
Ramil Guliyev
TUR
 
17
Hong Kong
HKG
18
Mike Rodgers 
USA
 
18
Anaso Jobodwana
RSA
 
18
Russia
RUS
19
Nickel Ashmeade 
JAM
 
19
Darvis Patton
USA
 
19
Taiwan
TPE
20
Lerone Clark 
JAM
 
20
Justin Gatlin
USA
 
20
South Africa
RSA

           Men's100m                                              Men's200m                                             Men's4x100m
 
Check out the whole TOP-50 RANKINGS and complete STATISTICS for every event above/*
 
 

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