31st July, 2017
Usain Bolt’s rivals will, for once, be glad to see the back of a man who has dominated global sprinting for the last decade.
But the sport of athletics will be far less enthusiastic about bidding a final farewell to the charismatic Jamaican.
Bolt has completed the sprint double at the last three Olympics unchallenged.
And had he not been disqualified ahead of the 100 meters final at Daegu in 2011, the 30-year-old could have matched that feat at the last four world championships.
In an era blighted by doping scandals, the Jamaican has almost single-handedly kept the sport afloat but his commanding reign will come to an end when he retires after next month’s world championships.
In the simple matter of who will take his place at the top of the 100 meters podium either at or after London.
Be that as it may, Canada’s Olympic sprint medalist Andre de Grasse appears to be just ahead of the pack as the leading candidate.
“De Grasse shows up when it counts. That’s the mark of a veteran.
“Even though he has been in the sport not too long,” Justin Gatlin, Olympic gold medalist in 2004 and runner-up behind Bolt in Rio last year, told Reuters.
South Africa also has a new generation of stars, led by Akani Simbine and Thando Roto.
With their national championships taking place in March, peaking twice in one season could hinder their hopes of victory in London.
“It’s difficult to be running fast in March and having to peak for your nationals and still find a way to be ready at the middle of August,” former 200m world champion Ato Boldon told Reuters.
The door could also open for the United States, a traditional sprint powerhouse, but largely forgotten as a threat for a decade since Gatlin and Tyson Gay tested positive for illegal drugs.
However, Christian Coleman put himself on the map when he ran 9.82 seconds, the fastest time this year, during the U.S. collegiate championships while Trayvon Bromell won bronze at the world championships two years ago aged just 20.