Usain Bolt is beatable. That thought, coming after his defeat in the Jamaican Olympic trials, by world champion Yohan Blake, should give every leading sprinter in the world a hope they probably never had during these past four years since the Beijing Olympics.
Were his stunning defeats in the 100 and 200m to Blake because of fitness problems or were they inevitable after a long reign of four years? We will know it at 2.20 a.m. on August 6.
Bolt’s supremacy in the 100m could be in doubt if there is the slightest of fitness problems that could affect his start, his Achilles heel. He can still be favoured to win the 200m with which he had come into prominence, winning the world junior title back in 2002.
In terms of timings, no one can come near the 25-year-old Jamaican in the 100m. The next best to his world record 9.59s is Tyson Gay’s 9.69 that he clocked in Shanghai in 2009 to equal Bolt’s Beijing Olympics effort.
Blake has an amazing 19.26s clocked in Brussels last year as the next best to Bolt’s 19.19s for the 200m. Those timings look unsurpassable but that is what we used to say when Michael Johnson’s 19.32s remained intact for a dozen years.
Bolt has suffered just two losses — excluding his disqualification in the World championships in Daegu — since winning the Olympic gold in the 100m in Beijing, to Gay in Stockholm on August 6, 2010 that ended his 14-race, two-year winning streak, and to Blake in the Jamaican Nationals on June 29 last.
He has nine marks under 9.80s for the short sprint and 10 marks of 19.75 or better for the 200m. He has five wins over Blake who had three of the results among them disqualified because of a doping suspension in 2009.
Bolt has won two of the three meetings with Gay and has a 12-1 record over Asafa Powell, former world record-holder and his countryman who is yet to win an individual Olympic medal.
Gay was beaten by Gatlin, who is staging a comeback after a four-year doping suspension, in the U.S. Olympic trials. But he had his revenge at St. Denis within a fortnight of the loss in Eugene.
Gay and Powell are also nursing niggling injuries. Gay is actually back after a serious hip surgery and he was not at his best in Beijing following a hamstring injury that affected his build-up. If Bolt has no injury worries then he should once again show the world his capacity to beat the rest by awesome margins, just as he did in Beijing and Berlin. If not Blake is ready to take over.