Mens 100m: Usain Bolt Goes for History; Can the Americans Stop Him?

August 10, 2016

Who is the fastest man in the world?

It doesn’t get any bigger or simpler than that, and that is why the men’s 100m final is the premier event at the Olympic Games.

Usain Bolt has already established himself as the greatest sprinter of all time. Not only is he the double Olympic champion at 100, 200 and the 4×100, and the world record holder at 100 and 200, but since he won his first Olympics in 2008, he has won every race at the World Championships or Olympics he has run at except for the 100m at the 2011 World Championships where he allegedly false started (some of the staff thinks he was enticed to a false start). He is 17 for 17 in global championship races he has finished since 2008. That is simply astounding in races decided by fractions of a second.

There is one thing Usain Bolt or no other person has done, and that’s win the same running event at three Olympics (Al Oerter won four straight shot put golds, Carl Lewis four straight long jumps, Robert Korzeniowski three straight 50km walks). Can Bolt make history again?

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Bolt already made the cover of Sports Illustrated this year Bolt already made the cover of Sports Illustrated this year

One would be foolish to bet against him, but Bolt has a formidable foe in Justin Gatlin. Gatlin, now 34, a convicted drug cheat, was the Olympic 100m champion in 2004. He served a four-year drug ban from 2006 to 2010 and slowly returned to the top of the sport (get the full story on Gatlin’s drug suspension here).

If anyone is going to stop Bolt, the most likely candidate is Gatlin. Gatlin is in good form, having run 9.88 and a world-leading 9.80 this year, but he was in even better form last year having run under 9.80 four times before Worlds and he still lost to Bolt in Beijing. Did Gatlin and his coach, convicted doper and Team USA relays coach Dennis Mitchell, adjust the training to peak later in the season this year, or is Father Time slowly inching up on him?

While Bolt has said he is definitely “feeling good” it needs to be pointed out that Bolt himself isn’t as fast this year as he was in 2015 before Worlds. Bolt’s best time is 9.88 and he ran that with a tailwind of 1 meter per second at his back. Last year before Worlds he ran 9.87 into a headwind. Gatlin’s best chance to best Bolt may have been last year, where Gatlin appeared to have the race won before stumbling in the final strides. (Recap here) Video below.

Other contenders

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Gatlin is 34 and Bolt turns 30 on the final day of the Rio Games. The future of the 100m appears to be American Trayvon Bromell, who is only 21. Bromell got the bronze last year at Worlds and is a big-meet performer (he ran a PR to win World Indoors this year in the 60). Fellow bronze medallist last year at Worlds, Andre de Grasse of Canada, is only 21 as well, but he has only broken 10.00 once in his first year as a pro. If anyone is going to break up Bolt and Gatlin, expect it to be Bromell. Jimmy Vicaut ran 9.86 earlier this year but was only 3rd at the European champs.

Event Time and Date:
Preliminary round – 8:30 a.m. ET Saturday, August 13
Quarterfinals – 11:00 a.m. ET Saturday, August 13
Semis – 8:00 p.m. ET Sunday, August 14
Final – 9:25 p.m. ET Sunday, August 14

2016 World Top 10

1 9.80 1.6 Justin Gatlin 10 Feb 82 USA 1 NC Eugene OR 3 Jul
2 9.84 1.6 Trayvon Bromell 10 Jul 95 USA 2 NC Eugene OR 3 Jul
3 9.86 1.8 =AR Jimmy Vicaut 27 Feb 92 FRA 1 Montreuil 7 Jun
4 9.88 1.0 Usain Bolt 21 Aug 86 JAM 1 Kingston 11 Jun
5 9.89 1.9 NR Akani Simbine 21 Sep 93 RSA 1 Gyulai Székesfehérvár 18 Jul
6 9.91 0.6 =AR Femi Ogunode 15 May 91 QAT 1 Jones Gainesville FL 22 Apr
7 9.92A 0.9 NR Jak Ali Harvey 5 Apr 89 TUR 1 Erzurum 12 Jun
7 9.92 1.9   Asafa Powell 23 Nov 82 JAM 2 Gyulai Székesfehérvár 18 Jul not on Jamaican 100m team
9 9.93 1.9 NR Kim Collins 5 Apr 76 SKN 1 Bottrop 29 May
10 9.94 1.0 Yohan Blake 26 Dec 89 JAM 3 Kingston 11 Jun
10 9.94 1.0 Nickel Ashmeade 7 Apr 90 JAM 2 Kingston 11 Jun
10 9.94 1.0   Ameer Webb 19 Mar 91 USA 2 GGala Roma 2 Jun
10 9.94 1.8 Marvin Bracy 15 Dec 93 USA 1 Montverde FL 11 Jun

2015 Worlds Final

Wind: −0.5 m/s

Rank Lane Name Nationality Time Notes
1st 5 Usain Bolt  Jamaica (JAM) 9.79 SB
2nd 7 Justin Gatlin  United States (USA) 9.80
3rd 3 Trayvon Bromell  United States (USA) 9.92
3rd 9 Andre De Grasse  Canada (CAN) 9.92 PB
5 4 Mike Rodgers  United States (USA) 9.94
6 6 Tyson Gay  United States (USA) 10.00
7 8 Asafa Powell  Jamaica (JAM) 10.00
8 1 Jimmy Vicaut  France (FRA) 10.00
9 2 Su Bingtian  China (CHN) 10.06

Betting Favorites as of  Aug 10

Screenshot 2016-08-10 at 01.01.21

Track and field News Top 3 Picks:

1. Usain Bolt (Jamaica) 9.59 (’09)
2. Justin Gatlin (USA) 9.74 (’15)
3. Trayvon Bromell (USA) 9.84 (’15)

LRC Prediction Contest Votes as of  8/10

(Want to play Fantasy Track and field- enter the Running Warehouse $200,016 Rio Prediction Contest)

Who will win the
Men’s 100m?
Usain Bolt 81.4%
Justin Gatlin 15.6%
Trayvon Bromell 2.5%
Yohan Blake 0.3%
Other 0.2%

LRC Advice: If you’re going to bet some cash and want to bet against Bolt, take your chances with Bromell. 14 to 1 is pretty good odds.

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