Everyone knows by now that the Men’s 100m is the single most watched event at each major championships. Of course, 2015 was no different. Indeed, this year had an unusual ‘Good versus Evil’ storyline to it just to make things that bit more appetizing. A story that was complete nonsense but I will get to that!
For the whole year up until Beijing, this event exclusively belonged to Justin Gatlin. At 33 years old he was running the fastest times of his career, clocking multiple times under 9.8 seconds. No one even came close. Even the likes of Jimmy Vicaut running 9.86 to equal the European record were still a good few metres behind. Anybody reading this knows the back story of Gatlin already so I won’t go over his past again, it is just rather depressing if nothing else. He is not truly evil as a person (I mean he hasn’t killed or assaulted anyone as far as I know) but his presence does not help the perception of the sport. Unfortunately perception is reality for most but in fairness, ANYONE who has been banned for illegal drug use does not help the perception of the sport but that’s a topic for another post.
So with this ‘evil’ athlete called Justin Gatlin came the ‘dark clouds that shrouded the sport’ (really can journalists not come up with better analogies, how many dark clouds have caused serious damage to people exactly?!) and the sport needed its’ knight in shining armour to save it from destruction apparently. Enter the legendary Usain Bolt. Apparently by Bolt beating Gatlin in one race, the fate of the sport lied in his hands…well his feet really but whatever. I can imagine a Lord of the Rings style speech before a titanic battle was said to Bolt in order for him to overcome such tremendous odds!
To make things more interesting, Usain Bolt was apparently on the wane. Before the anniversary games, he was =62nd in the world with a measly time of 10.12. The fact that this one run was super early in the season in a street race in Brazil where fast times are rarely run was conveniently not mentioned but he ran two 9.87s (one including a dreadful start) to suddenly show he could beat Gatlin. It also shut up those people who said they thought Bolt would not even run in Beijing in order to protect his reputation.
So for the majority of people watching, it was all about Bolt and Gatlin. However, 2015 was a year where some of the next generation began to shine. Trayvon Bromell ran superbly all year and was the one American sprinter in Beijing who had not had a doping related ban in his career. He ran 9.84 at the US trials (albeit in Eugene where super fast times seem to happen) to give a glimpse into the future of American sprinting. On the other end of the scale you had former World Champion Kim Collins who at 39 years of age ran under 10 seconds which is just simply amazing. If only there were more Kim Collins’ in the sport.
In total there were 27 men who went under 10 seconds this year, compared to 16 in 2014, 14 in 2013 and 19 in the last Olympic year. Therefore anyone making a final (especially if you are not American or Jamaican) would represent an amazing achievement. Indeed the final would have 4 Americans, 2 Jamaicans, 1 Canadian, I French and 1 Chinese in it.
So as with most ‘good versus evil’ stories, the good guy won as Bolt won by the smallest of margins. The dark clouds disappeared, commentators went crazy with joy (just another reason to love Steve Cram by the way) and everything was right with the world. Of course that was never going to happen, but I think most would agree that a newspaper headline with Bolt winning was better than ‘Drug cheat beats Bolt to win world championships’ by quite a considerable margin.
Fittingly in a race with 3 other athletes with previous doping bans, it was two youngsters Bromell and De Grasse of Canada who shared the bronze with identical times. In a few years the likes of Bolt, Gatlin, Gay and Powell will be gone and the next generation of stars will represent the most talked about event in athletics and they have a heck of a job in following the Usain Bolt years but someone has got to do it. Hopefully they can represent it well.
2015 will be remembered by most as the year where evil so nearly overcame good, but what it should be remembered for is how the legend of Usain Bolt gained an unexpected new chapter. He was already a champion but he proved that he is one of the best champions the sport has ever seen. Enjoy him while you can, he won’t be around much longer.
QUESTION TIME: What is your favourite Usain Bolt moment ever?
Until next time!