The deuce annually has the potential to be one of the best events of the season. Unfortunately two things always seem to get in the way – injuries and lack of competition.
This year’s casualties to injury were significant as Tyson Gay (USA) pulled out of Nationals due to injury and Wallace Spearmon (USA) was unable to advance past the opening round at Nationals. Gay is a former World champion (’07) and Spearmon was a medalist in ’05, ’07, and ’09. Another significant player was lost when Berlin finalist Steve Mullings (JAM) was lost to a drug suspension.
At the end of the day, however, it was lack of competition that once again kept the deuce from elevating to the top of the sports list of special events. Things looked like they might get hot in 2011 as Walter Dix (USA) opened up at 20.06 in Doha (May 6) followed the next day by Nickel Ashmeade (JAM) blowing out the year’s first sub20 with a 19.95 in Kingston. But after a sizzling opening, the remainder of May was quiet in the deuce.
June opened up hot as Usain Bolt (JAM) took to the track and took over the yearly lead at 19.86 in Oslo on June 9th. But again, the remainder of the month was quiet, the only other mark of note being a windy U.S. Nationals race with Dix (19.95, +2.4) out leaning Darvis Patton (19.98). From then until Daegu things were relatively quiet with no elite head to heads, and 2010 find Yohan Blake (JAM) avoiding the event altogether. Bolt won in Paris (20.03) and Stockholm (20.03), while Dix won Pre (20.19), Lucerne (20.02) and London (20.16) as the pair carved up the major races of the summer without going head to head. Ashmeade, after his blazing opener in Kingston, would run there again at Jamaica Nationals (2nd, 20.32) but would not be seen again until Daegu. Meanwhile Christophe Lemaitre (FRA) was honing his skills in Stockholm (20.28 to win his heat) and Paris (20.21) behind Bolt; as was Jaysuma Ndure (NOR) – a 2nd at Pre in 20.28 behind Dix, and a 2nd to Bolt in Oslo at 20.43 his best showings.
So it was that Daegu, as is becoming the norm in this event, would become the defining race of the season – providing that rare opportunity on the year where the best would actually line up in this event. The outcome was the deepest race of the season as Bolt (19.40), Dix (19.70), Lemaitre (19.80, PR) and Ndure (19.95) would all break the 20 second barrier – with early sub 20 man Ashmeade 5th in 20.29. The race would NOT be the years’ fastest however, as two weeks later Yohan Blake and Walter Dix lined up in Brussels in the deuce with Blake (19.26) becoming #2 all-time ahead of Dix (19.53) fueling my thoughts that this event is perhaps the best on the planet if we could just get the world’s best to compete with some regularity – and against each other!
All that said this event became fairly easy to rank at the end of the day:
Bolt was undefeated on the year, though his season only consisted of four races. One of those races was the World Championships where he defended his title – only Calvin Smith (‘83/’87) and Michael Johnson (‘93/’95) have won back to back World titles in the deuce. His 19.40 was #4 all-time at the time – now #5 – and he beat everyone that mattered on the season.
|#2||Walter Dix||United States|
Just as easy a pick for the #2 slot, Dix took World silver and was #2 in the year’s two fastest races – races that produced the #’s 2 & 5 times ever. Dix was 5 – 2 on the year and defeated everyone else that mattered.
Some may begin to see a pattern here as Lemaitre garners the same slot as his finish in Daegu, as the bronze medalist lost only to Bolt and Dix during his 3 – 2 season.
Fourth in the year’s biggest race, twice under 20 seconds, and never worse than fourth in eight races. Ndure was solid all season long.
Again the World Championships was the big determiner here in what was a four meet season for Ashmeade. He started the season at 19.95 in Kingston and ended it at 19.91 in Brussels, but only his Nationals and Worlds in between must rate the same as his finish in Daegu.
I’m sure some are asking, “What about Blake?” While Blake sizzled in Brussels with the #2 time ever, one race does not a season make. And while Blake did compete in four meets during the year, his times in the other three were 20.39, 20.33, and 20.38. He did defeat Dix in Brussels, but he also lost to Marvin Andersen in Ostrava (20.27 to 20.38). So with poor marks outside of Brussels, along with a loss, and not competing at Worlds, Blake just can’t crack my top 5 – even though he did move to #2 all time on the clock.
Next up, the women.