By: Dave Lindo
The big clash between world record holder, Usain Bolt and former world record holder, Asafa Powell at the recent Jamaica National Trials, not surprisingly, did not materialize. Both had played down the clash in pre-race interviews and said that they would do just enough to qualify for the Olympics team.
In the end Bolt won, looking very relaxed, even having time to glance twice at his friend Asafa, winning in a time of 9.85. While Powell just as relaxed came second in 9.97 sec.
So all focus now is on that Olympic Gold medal at the Beijing summer Olympics. Both athletes said that an Olympic Gold far outweighs having a world record as the record will easily go but the gold medal stays with you for ever.
The Bolt - Asafa debate about which of the two is 'faster' in the 100m is still circulating. I would stick my neck out in saying that presently, Bolt is in much better condition than Asafa and is capable of running faster.
However, as the outstanding track and field analyst Earl Bailey said on a Talk Show programme on RJR on Monday, June 30, 2008, "with 6 weeks to go before the Beijing Olympics anything can happen. An athlete can improve as well as drop form."
Even on the day itself, in just under 10 seconds, the 100m finals race will be completed and the winner of the Olympic Gold medal would have been decided.
Many factors will come into play in deciding who wins. Who will survive the 3 preliminary rounds using less energy. And in the finals, who executes the perfect race. The start, the 'transition stage' and the finish.
There is also the mental game; which athlete will crack under pressure, who is mentally tougher, Bolt or Asafa. Well, Asafa had shown at the last Olympics that he withered under the pressure. In the second time around though, he should be better prepared in that aspect.
Bolt, in that department loves the 'hype', loves competition and has proven to be mentally tough.
The 'Tyson Gay factor' is also a serious one to take into consideration. The Americans don't like to lose and Bolt whipping the man on his home soil, in breaking the world record, posting 9.72 at the Reebok Track Classic in New York on May 31, 2008 didn't go down well with Gay and the Americans in general.
Gay has bounced back with a wind assisted (4.1m per sec. wind) 9.68 seconds, the fastest time ever ran by a human being, which he did at the US Trials. He also ran 9.77 sec. in the semi finals of the trials.
Gay said that he and his coach, Jon Drummond, went back on the drawing board and made some improvements with his start, and his general sprinting technique.
One thing for sure, it argues well for Jamaica, in having the two fastest men in the world who are both trained by Jamaicans in Jamaica. This speaks volumes for Jamaica's track and field.