Three weeks this Friday the London Olympics Opening Ceremony will take place. After his amazing performance in Beijing 2008 and the years which followed, all eyes will be on Usain Bolt. The defending Olympic Champion and world record holder has set lofty expectations.
Back in May, Bolt was having a blip in form which the media pounced all over, labelling him as ‘sluggish’ as he won a race in Ostrava in 10.04s. Two weeks later, those critics were eating their words as he ran blistering 100m’s, 9.76 and 9.79, in Rome and Oslo respectively, to set the fastest times of 2012.
Following those performances, anyone would have been forgiven for thinking that Bolt was a dead-cert winner in the Jamaican trials. Not so. Much has been made of Bolt’s historic rivalry with Asafa Powell but we forget Yohan Blake – even though he won the 100m world championships gold in Daegu last year. Bolt was disqualified from that the final in Daegu for a false start so many perceive that Blake is just a paper champion. Following the Jamaican trials last week however, the world has sat up and taken notice of the 22 year-old – Blake beat Bolt to set both, a personal best at 9.75s and the fastest time in the world this year.
Then two days later, in Bolt’s more favoured 200m, lightning struck twice as Blake beat Bolt again, this time with 19.80s on the clock. In both instances, Bolt was the first to congratulate his training partner via a bear-hug. Blake, in contrast to the Bolt vs Powell rivalry, is relatively modest. “A lot of people gave me encouragement, ‘Yohan Blake, you can do it,'”I just wanted to keep performing and keep going.”
In addition to Blake, Bolt cannot afford to forget about USA’s Tyson Gay (who won the American trials in 9.86s), the second fastest man ever. Going into the Olympics with such a strong quartet (Asafa Powell completes the group) will be a joy to watch and it is not out of the question that Jamaica could have a clean sweep of the podium on 5th August.
Perhaps Bolt wants to make it interesting in London. The sporting world is well aware what he is capable of. Few would be surprised with a new world-record in London as Olympic finals always bring out the very best performances in top-end athletes. To top it all off, apparently Bolt does not worry unless his coach worries – so all good there.