Sunday, September 20, 2009

100's Sizzle in Shanghai - Gay 9.69, Jeter 10.64

12th IAAF World Athletics Championships - Day Two

The season is supposed to be winding down, but a couple of sprinters that didn't have the success they had hoped for in Berlin seem to be trying to make a point lately.

The promoters of the Shanghai Grand Prix wanted desperately to have Usain Bolt compete in this meet. But with sterling runs by Tyson Gay and Carmelita Jeter that put both solidly in the #2 position all time in the men's and women's 100 Shanghai had no problem turning out awesome sprint performance without Bolt.

One year ago Usain Bolt shattered the WR with his sizzling 9.69 dash in Beijing. A run that it was said no one else could duplicate - as Bolt was labeled an alien and the greatest sprinter ever. In Berlin Bolt dropped that mark to 9.58 but hot on his heels was Tyson Gay - taking a groin that has long needed surgery to an American Record 9.71.

If Bolt's 9.69 classified him as an alien, then the 5' 11" Gay must also have alien DNA as only Bolt's 9.58 in Berlin is faster than today's dash down the track by Gay. With Bolt himself having shut his season down, today's 100 was another showdown between the #'s 2 & 3 fastest sprinters in history - Tyson Gay (9.71) and Asafa Powell (9.72) - and the race did not disappoint.

Powell got a classic start, burying the field at the gun, moving out to a commanding lead, and looking for all intents and purposes to be sailing on his way to a solid victory. But, to add to the "alien" theme, Gay unable to utilize the "alien" 6' 5" sprint frame of Usain Bolt and his 12 foot strides, instead morphed into a human form of "The Road Runner", as he appeared to go "beep beep" before jetting right past the flying Powell as if Powell were a human version of Wile E Coyote! In the blink of an eye, Tyson went from a meter and a half down to a meter and a half up as he drove past the finish line, stopping the clock at 9.69! Powell once again appeared to break stride at the end in defeat, yet still finished in 9.85 - a sign of just how fast the now "alien" Gay was moving in full flight!

Carmelita Jeter was also a vision of speed in Shanghai as somehow during the month of September she found a way to channel the 1988 spirit of FloJo herself. As only FloJo has ever had the kind of back to back runs we've seen from Jeter this month as she followed up her 10.67 in Greece with today's 10.64 bomb in Shanghai! Unlike Gay who gave up ground at the start of his run, however, Jeter hit the kind of start that could lead to greatness. Starting even with the field she simply began pulling away once she came up out of her drive phase. And with every step thereafter she opened up more ground on her competition which included former World 100 meter champion Veronica Campbell Brown. Campbell Brown ran what would be a sterling 10.89 under any other circumstances, yet today was well beaten behind Jeter's hot dash!

Jeter's 10.64 put her ahead of none other than one Marion Jones. And aside from Flo's 10.49, only times of 10.61 and 10.62 by FloJo herself in 1988 are better than Jeter's super dash! And given the long held belief by many that it was far too windy in Indy to produce a reading of +0.0 at any point during the first two days of the Trials that year, this run may have been a couple centimeters away from being the best 100 ever run!

Of course, the problem that both Gay and Jeter have right now is that the next opportunity to run for gold isn't until 2011 - as next year is an "off season" without a major championship. Gay has had the unfortunate luck to have been injured now, for two Majors in a row - though he was still able to garner silver with his 9.71 dash. Jeter, on the other hand, has not been able to master her start in a Major - which has been the big difference between her 10.83/10.90 runs in Berlin and her 10.67/10.64 runs in Greece and China!

So as fast as both are running, Usain Bolt and Shelly Ann Fraser possess the titles! And though I'm sure we may see a few "money" races in 2010, not until Daegu in 2011 will either have the opportunity to wrest a title away from the Jamaican champions. Given what I've seen during and after Berlin, 2010 could be full of fireworks! My guess is that we are just beginning to get a glimpse of what may yet be in store from both.

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