Sunday, August 14, 2011

World Championships Preview – 100 Meters

I know that this is the event that many have been waiting for, but I wanted to wait until the drama of the recent drug positive played out a bit before previewing both this race and the 200. While the news of Steve Mullings (JAM) positive test is extremely disappointing, I will wait until the Anti Doping Process has run it’s course before commenting further on those circumstances. Right now the World Championships deserves our attention, and it is in that vein that I take a look at the 100 meters.



Women’s 100 Meters

World Record 10.49 Florence Griffith Joyner USA
Meet Record 10.70 Marion Jones USA
2009 Gold 10.73 Shelly Ann Fraser JAM


2011 Best

  10.70 Carmelita Jeter USA
  10.76 Veronica Campbell Brown JAM
  10.86 Marshavet Myers USA
  10.87 Kerron Stewart JAM
  10.91 Kelly Ann Baptiste TRI
  10.95 Shelly Ann Fraser JAM

This could be one of the most entertaining races of the meet, as we have a contingent of very competitive women headed to Daegu – and a head to head national rivalry to boot with a final that should be dominated by athletes from the U.S. and Jamaica.

Leading on the clock is Carmelita Jeter (USA) – only she, Marion Jones, and FloJo have ever run faster than her 10.70. She’s 7-1 on the year including wins in Daegu, Eugene, Stockholm and London. Her lone loss being to Jamaica’s Veronica Campbell Brown in Shanghai.

Campbell Brown has also had a stellar, though limited season – winning three of four in this event, with a DQ. She won in Shanghai, Ostrava and Kingston (NC), and lost to Kelly Ann Baptiste (TRI) in Paris.

Baptiste, meanwhile, is 4-2 with wins in Fayetteville, Reims, Paris and Luzerne, but losses to Jeter in Kingston and London. At the top it’s looking a bit like Ro Sham Bo – Brown beats Jeter, Jeter beats Baptiste, Baptiste beats Brown! As these have been the dominant women heading into Korea. There are others threats lurking out there, however.

Marshevet Myers (USA) has found wins difficult to come by but did cross the line first in Ponce, and was 2nd to Jeter at Pre, Nationals, and Stockholm. Similar story for Kerron Stewart who has only lost to the above three, winning in Rethymno and placing 4th at Kingston, 3rd at Pre, Paris and Stockholm, and 2nd at Jamaica Naitonals.

The curiosity on the season has been defending champion Shelly Ann Fraser with only three races on the season. She won in Lignano, but came 4th at Pre and 3rd in London in races where she really wasn’t competitive. Not how a defending champion wants to enter a Major.

So how does this super game of Ro Sham Bo play out? Pay very close attention to the first thirty meters, because this is a race that is dominated by high end finishers. Jeter, Campbell Brown, Myers, Stewart and Baptiste ALL tend to find their stride somewhere between 50 and 60 meters – so the closing rush in this race should be something to behold. Which is why the first thirty meters will be VERY important as the women who cross this mark first will be in the best position to out finish and hold off the others! Both Jeter and Campbell Brown have shown improvement in this area this year – which is reflected in their times being a cut above the others. So, Ro Sham Bo here we go:

Gold Carmelita Jeter USA 10.69
Silver Veronica Campbell Brown JAM 10.73
Bronze Marshavet Myers USA 10.82
Just Missed Kelly Ann Baptiste TRI 10.85




Men’s 100 Meters

World Record 9.58 Usain Bolt JAM
Meet Record 9.58 Usain Bolt JAM
2009 Gold 9.58 Usain Bolt JAM


2011 Best

  9.78 Asafa Powell JAM
  9.79 Tyson Gay USA
  9.80* Steve Mullings JAM
  9.85* Mike Rodgers USA
  9.85 Richard Thompson TRI
  9.88 Michael Frater JAM
  9.88 Usain Bolt JAM

This was supposed to be the ultimate race. The Super Century. The three fastest men in history going head to head. That went out the window when Tyson Gay (USA) had to withdraw from Nationals due to injury – at the time the world leader.

That was the first bit of bad news for this event. The second came last week with the positive “A” sample from Steve Mullings (JAM) which should find him left off the Jamaican squad for Daegu, since his “B” sample isn’t scheduled to be tested until after the deadline date for team entries to be submitted.

The other “news” in this event has been the sub par form of defending champion Usain Bolt. In three races this year, Bolt is “only” 9.91, 9.91, and 9.88 on the clock. He has won all three races, but has looked nothing like the man that ran roughshod through Beijing and Berlin. He’s only = #5 on the yearly list headed to Daegu and looking potentially vulnerable.

The man that took over the leadership of the yearly list after Gay left the track is Asafa Powell (JAM) who ran a list leading 9.78 in Lausanne. After a loss to Bolt in Rome, and a 7th in Rabat (36.13 in a race where he thought he felt something), he ran off four wins in a row – Nationals, Lausanne, Birmingham and Budapest – before withdrawing from London due to injury (not wanting to aggravate a minor injury).

The next fastest man on the clock entering Daegu is Michael Rodgers (USA). Though fast on the clock, wins have been hard to come by for Rodgers who has competed often placing  5th in New York, 3rd in Kingston, Nationals, Lignano, Monaco and London, and 2nd Daegu, Shanghai, and Eugene.

Rodgers 3rd place finish at Nationals came behind Walter Dix (9.94) and Justin Gatlin (9.95). Dix, as quiet as it’s kept is also undefeated this year (a la Bolt) in limited action with wins in Daegu, Nationals, Halifax and Toronto. And he showed good fitness with a late July 20.02 run over 200 in Luzerne. Gatlin, meanwhile, followed up his 2nd at Nationals with a 2nd in Reims and a win in Madrid.

The Jamaican contingent will have Yohan Blake (9.95) and Nesta Carter (9.90) as Carter should be named to replace Mullings to the team. Blake is actually 4-2 on the season. His wins coming in Kingston, Montreuil sous Bois, Barcelona and London – placing 2nd in Strasbourg and Jamaica Nationals. Carter has only two wins on the season – at Spanish Town & Padova – while coming 3rd at Pre, 4th at Jamaica Nationals & Lausanne, and 2nd in Birmingham, Monaco and London.

Two others deserve consideration. First is French champion Christophe Lemaitre. Lemaitre made history last year by becoming the first white sprinter under the 10 second barrier. This year he is making sub 10 common place with four sub 10 runs on his way to a best of 9.92. He also finished 3rd in Lausanne and Rome, though only 5th in Monaco.

The other who needs to be considered is Ngoni Makusha of Zimbabwe. Known as a long jumper prior to this year (4th in Beijing) he’s run the 100 with some amazing results – 9.97 and a Collegiate Record 9.89 in his first two serious finals! He has a 2nd in Budapest and a win in Karlstad this summer to give him a 3-1 record on the season. And watching him run at the ACC and NCAA Championships, he’s a very relaxed and patient sprinter, who seems unaffected by the competition – dangerous in a setting like Deagu.

Now that the plethora of players has been placed out there, how do they all stack up? Because this is not the easy “slam dunk” prediction that one would have expected before the season began.

For starters, the two fastest men entering Daegu are also the two men with the poorest records in Majors compared to expectations. In spite of more than 80 sub 10 runs and four WR’s, Asafa Powell has only two bronze medals and two 5th place finishes to show for it. Similarly Michael Rodgers entered Berlin as National champion then watched the finals from the stands as he was unable to get out of the semifinals. In contrast, Usain Bolt, Walter Dix and Justin Gatlin have made the podium in every Major 100 final they have contested. Bolt winning in Beijing and Berlin. Gatlin winning in Athens and Helsinki. And Dix coming third in Beijing. The others are all relative rookies to the party. Carter was only 7th in his semi in Osaka. Lemaitre won his heat in Berlin, then was DQ’d in his quarterfinal. Makusha and Blake have yet to compete in a Major in this event.

Race pattern wise, we have the blitzkrieg starts of Asafa Powell, Nesta Carter and Michael Rodgers versus the top end closing speeds of Usain Bolt, Walter Dix, Justin Gatlin, Christophe Lemaitre, Yoham Blake and Ngoni Makusha. Powell, Carter and Rodgers are all known to fade in the second half of the race and give back their early gains plus some. Bolt, Dix and Gatlin are all known to close over the final 40 like freight trains, while Lemaitre, Blake and Makusha are mid race acceleration artists.

All of which makes the 30 to 70 meter segment THE key part of this race. This is where the starters will have to make sure they are well clear of the finishers; where Bolt, Dix and Gatlin have to gain contact; and where Lemaitre, Blake and Makusha have to try and get separation from Bolt, Dix and Gatlin! I’ve got a feeling we may see a clutch or two burn up somewhere between 30 and 70.

Bolt is not Bolt this year, but he may not have to be given the level of competition has not really stepped up – and the threat of Tyson Gay is off the table. Powell has to prove that he is not himself this year either – by stepping up under the lights. If he doesn’t he not only doesn’t win, but may face not getting to the podium once more. Gatlin has to prove that he remembers how to win. His close 2nd at Nationals gave an indication that that may be the case, but he needs a run in Daegu like the one he got in Athens. Dix has to be Dix. So far that is a man hat has been able to get to the podium whenever a title is on the line. Like Powell, Rodgers has to prove he can run fast when it matters. Lemaitre must relax, nail a start, and improve his NR one more time. Blake needs to replicate Kingston. Carter needs to replicate Rieti. And Makusha just needs to continue to run like he doesn’t care.

At the end of the day, this is a competitors race – literally and figuratively. My crystal ball says that the fast starters will put pressure on each other before the top end dragsters have a chance to get to them. Leaving the sprinters that seem to thrive under pressure to do so so yet again.

Gold Usain Bolt JAM 9.78
Silver Walter Dix USA 9.82
Bronze Justin Gatlin USA 9.84
Just Missed Christophe Lemaitre FRA 9.86




Note: This preview was written yesterday, with the intent to review and edit before posting today – something just told me to wait. Of course, waking up this morning produced more news in an event that is just full of news this year! So this morning we get two new bits of information that could potentially affect the race. Rather than do a rewrite I am going to address them here, because when all is said and done I do not believe they will affect the final outcome as far as medal distribution is concerned.

First is the positive drug test of Michael Rodgers (USA) for a stimulant. As with Steve Mullings (JAM), I will let the Anti Doping process run its course before making any further comments on the Rodgers matter. Suffice it to say, that in my evaluation of his chances at a medal I found him lacking. As such should he be pulled from the U.S. squad (which he should be) I do not see that affecting the final outcome. Similarly I do not see his potential replacement, Trell Kimmons, as a podium threat. No slam against Kimmons, this is just going to be a hot race.

The second bit of news comes out of the Trinidadian Trials where Richard Thompson won the title in 9.85 seconds – a new National record. Which means that in the last 24 hours we have replaced one 9.85 sprinter with another. While the mark now makes Thompson the second fastest man on the clock entering Daegu, it was his first sub 10 since the World Championships in Berlin – where he finished 5th in 9.93 – a long drought for an elite sprinter. Making the mark an “outlier” at this point.

Reviewing Thompson’s season to date, he was 7th in Kingston, 5th in Rome, 3rd in Hengelo, 7th at Pre, 5th in Reims, 4th in Birmingham, 3rd in a heat in Lignano, and 5th in London. In other words, he has had less success against top level competition than the man he is “replacing”, Rodgers. To his credit, however, he has proven to be a better “big meet performer” than Rodgers gaining silver in Beijing. However, that was in a season where he was consistently faster and more competitive than he has been in 2011 up to yesterday. And he followed that up with a 5th place finish in Berlin.

After taking these things into consideration and adding the following: One, he was clearly the dominant athlete yesterday (allowing him a “relaxed” race), whereas he hasn’t been in most races this year, and will not be in Daegu; Two, his race pattern is more that of a “starter” than a “closer” in a race that will be dominated by fierce closing rushes; and Three, just as he is now peaking for Worlds, so will everyone else that will be in the final, I have decided to stay with my prediction as originally stated. I think that Thompson can be a finalist, but do not see him crashing the top four.


  1. I like that your going out to say Dix will get 2nd. He is probably my favorite sprinter, but its tough to put him in the medals. Powell's confidence puts him in another level now I'm thinking, and Gatlin is strictly a Big meet performer. Unfortunately we are unable to see him run with everyone else on the circuit due to the past. But I think Gatlin will split Bolt and Powell for the medals, and I would probably favor Powell for gold.

    What do you think of Makusha, I think to much credit is given for his 2 great runs at ACC and NCAA. I would probably pick Thompson over him to aleast make the final. Based off of how you picked your medalist, Thompson has proven he can make the final and run with the best of them. Makusha had 2 great times this year, and really nothing else of significance. Just my thought.

  2. Gatlin certainly has the longest history as a Big meet performer, but Dix has done the same over the years .. He tends to do his best racing when the lights are on - which is why I picked that Trio ...

    Powell is the opposite .. And I don't think it has to do with confidence ... Went into Athens undefeated ... Went into Osaka undefeated and having never lost to Tyson Gay .. And he tends to either win big or lose big ..

    Makusha has perhaps the best natural sprinting form I've ever seen ... I don't think his times were flukes - I watched both runs ... That said, this will be on another plain ... Thompson has the experience factor over him, but as fast as it was, hard for me to get excited over one race .. Especially with so many excellent sprinters in the race ...

    Even losing Mullings all four Jamaicans can get to the final, as can Gatlin and Dix .. That leaves two spots ... One of which will be Lemaitre - I just think he is that tough ... Leaving one spot ... Thompson/Makusha .. I tend to favor history which would favor Thompson, but Makusha runs with the confidence of someone much more seasoned ... My gut says Makusha ... And of all the sprinters not named Bolt, I think he is the one most capable of coming in and upsetting everything ...

  3. Fair enough, I agree with your final, I guess I just go with experience at the world stage and choose Thompson. 2nd in Beijing, and 5th in Berlin on a lean with D. Baliey, behind the big 3.

    I completely agree with the womens though SAF just hasn't shown she is capable of her previous form. I would probably choose KAB over Myers though just be cause she seems to be on a major upward swing going into worlds, and she had the opportunity to skip her nationals. But it could go either way.

  4. Oh I'm not so much sold on Makusha as I am on the idea that someone usually comes out of the woodwork at a meet like this and he is the most likely suspect ...