So as another four years pass and the reality of how quickly time flies dawns, we welcome once again the ‘greatest show on earth‘, in the form of the Rio Olympics 2016. It’s a minor miracle the event is actually taking place at all – when considering the innumerable obstacles organisers have faced, from the Zika virus, completion of stadia and accommodation, to the transport infrastructure, civil unrest and the mere sight of dead bodies popping up in the waters by the volleyball beach. In fact, the pollution in Rio is so bad – triathletes and sailors have been told to keep their mouths tightly closed for fear of contamination. And if all that is not depressing enough, there’s the continued doping allegations that hang in the air like a large, very dark, rain-filled cloud.
Here at The MALESTROM it’s track & field that always gets the juices flowing and in particular the coveted 100m dash. Quite regularly we find ourselves sat debating who would make an all-time greatest 100m line-up, but that’s a discussion we’ll save for a later date. At the moment it’s all eyes on Usain Bolt and the final scheduled for the 15th August. The sheer magnitude of the race can’t be overlooked, for the simple reason that Bolt’s likely closest rivals in that final have both been involved in allegations and doping charges and have experienced lengthy suspensions.
Firstly Justin Gatlin received a one-year ban in 2001, before a second four-year ban in 2006 – remarkably at the ripe old age of 34, he appears to be running as quick and efficiently as ever. Secondly, there is another Jamaican sprinter in the form of Yohan Blake who although cleared of a doping violation, was later banned for three months due to the nature of a substance he was found to have taken, and it’s similarity to one that was indeed on the list of banned substances.
It’s so complicated, and indeed there are numerous grey areas, which is why people, fans, feel so disillusioned with athletics. Nobody knows who to trust, who is clean, and of course one of the reasons we watch such events is the hope of seeing the impossible achieved, for records to be broken. But if that happens this summer in Rio, there will be some serious questions asked, so it’s no wonder if people choose not to get involved.
A quick glance at the all-time fastest 100m times makes pretty depressing reading, with only five names featuring in the top 30. Four of those names comprise Bolt’s closest rivals during his impeccable career, and all four have endured or been embroiled in a scandal surrounding performance enhancers. Those names are Tyson Gay, Asafa Powell, Yohan Blake and Justin Gatlin, the next on the list is ironically Nesta Carter, more on him in a bit. Bolt features on nine occasions in the top 30 times, and impressively has the three fastest times ever, the quickest being that remarkable 9.58 at the 2009 World Champs in Berlin.
Usain Bolt only recently acknowledged that …
“athletics needs me to win”.
But what if Bolt doesn’t win? So far in 2016 Usain Bolt has only competed in four 100m races, his fastest time clocked at, by his standards, a pedestrian 9.88 sec, with a couple of +10 second runs early in the season. In contrast at the top of the list, Justin Gatlin has run the two fastest times of the season so far in 9.80 and 9.83 respectively. Injuries have curtailed Bolt’s preparations and if more bad news was needed, it’s possible that Bolt may have to hand back one the six gold medals, that have made him one of the most recognisable faces on the planet, due to charges facing Nesta Carter, who remember makes the fastest all-time list, and was his relay teammate in the Beijing games. It would be sad to see the most tested man in sport, inadvertently embroiled in another doping story, and forced to hand back a medal – so here’s hoping that once again he steps up and delivers, and the headlines are saved for the man who’s kept the sport alive during these dark times. It won’t be straightforward, and if he wins it’ll be very close – but Bolt always saves his best performances for the big occasion, let’s hope Rio 2016 is no different.
Who’s your money on? Let us know.