Rojo makes some valid points. I have no idea about Mo’s health or fitness, but the sport would be better served without all the hidden ball tricks when it comes to scheduling and start lists. We’re skeptical about the timing of this announcement because we’ve seen it all before—over and over and over again. How often have we seen meet directors go out of their way to set up multiple heats so that two star sprinters don’t have to race head-to-head? Or what about the athlete who fulfills his or her obligation to compete in a meet, but then announces that he or she has decided to run an off event? You don’t see that in swimming. Phelps and Lochte go head-to-head all the time. They don’t run away from the challenge. They embrace it.
Look at some of the best stuff we’ve seen on the track this summer. James and Merritt banging on each other in the 400? Scintillating stuff. Bondarenko and Barshim in the high jump? Ditto. We’ve even seen Huddle and Rowbury go at it twice in the 5k and both were compelling races. Rivalries not only create better athletes, they help sell the sport. Makes no difference if it’s a team sport or an individual sport. The sport of boxing, for example, could have literally picked itself off the canvas had it somehow figured out a way to get its two biggest stars, Mayweather and Pacquiao, into the ring at the same time. Instead, it continues to die a slow, miserable death.