Worlds Preview: Men’s sprints

100 meters

Competition schedule:
Preliminaries, Friday Aug 26, 11:55 PM
Heats, Saturday Aug 27, 8:45 AM
Semifinals, Sunday Aug 28, 5:30 AM
Final, Sunday Aug 28, 7:45 AM

2009 medalists: Usain Bolt (JAM), Tyson Gay (USA), Asafa Powell (JAM)
The Americans: Walter Dix, Justin Gatlin, Trell Kimmons
TFN medal picks: Usain Bolt (JAM), Walter Dix (USA), Asafa Powell (JAM)

2011 World List adjusted for wind and altitude
Asafa Powell JAM 9.84
Tyson Gay USA 9.84 (not entered)
Yohan Blake JAM 9.85
Usain Bolt JAM 9.90
Richard Thompson TRI 9.90

Superfan World Rankings
Asafa Powell JAM 206
Yohan Blake JAM 174
Nesta Carter JAM 172
Mike Rodgers USA 151 (not entered)
Usain Bolt JAM 147

Chance of USA gold: Unlikely
Chance of USA medal(s): Reasonable

So far this year, Usain Bolt has been good, but unimpressive by the standards we’ve come to expect from him. He certainly appears beatable. Asafa Powell has been very good, and looks all but unbeatable. Based on what we’ve seen in 2011, Powell should be the overwhelming favorite.

But…Bolt has a habit of rising to the occasion, and Powell most certainly does not. In their lone meeting this year, Powell faltered at the finish and Bolt went past. This kind of mental lapse has been Powell’s trademark in big races. This will either be Powell’s breakthrough on the big stage, or yet another choke.

Yohan Blake and Nesta Carter give Jamaica a very real chance at a medal sweep, something only the USA has ever done in this event at a Worlds or Olympics. In fact, the only gold-silver sweep by another nation was when Canada went 1-2 at the 1995 Worlds.

I list the USA as having a reasonable chance at a medal solely due to the presence of Walter Dix, a proven big-meet performer who does well with multiple rounds. Gatlin would do well simply to make the final, and I don’t see Trell Kimmons getting that far.

Other medal threats include Trinidad’s Richard Thompson and France’s Christophe Lemaitre.

Bottom line: Powell versus Bolt.

200 meters

Competition schedule:
Heats, Thursday Sep 1, 10:10 PM
Semifinals, Friday Sep 2, 6:55 AM
Final, Saturday Sep 3, 8:20 AM

2009 medalists: Usain Bolt (JAM), Alonso Edward (PAN), Wallace Spearmon (USA)
The Americans: Walter Dix, Darvis Patton, Maurice Mitchell
TFN medal picks: Usain Bolt (JAM), Walter Dix (USA), Nickel Ashmeade (JAM)

2011 World List adjusted for wind and altitude
Usain Bolt JAM 19.91
Walter Dix USA 20.00
Christophe Lemaitre FRA 20.04
Nickel Ashmeade JAM 20.05
Mookie Salaam USA 20.08 (not entered)

Superfan World Rankings
Walter Dix USA 172
Usain Bolt JAM 166
Christophe Lemaitre FRA 88
Maurice Mitchell USA 85
Mookie Salaam USA 73 (not entered)

Chance of USA gold: Unlikely
Chance of USA medal(s): Likely

Despite Bolt not being at his best, it’s hard to imagine him being beaten here.

Walter Dix, last year’s Diamond League champion over 200 meters, is the most common choice for silver. Jamaica’s Nickel Ashmeade has run fast, but has only one race under his belt since late June (and a pretty crappy one at that). The surprise runner could be France’s Christophe Lemaitre. Regardless, this is not a particularly deep event this year.

The remaining Americans, NCAA champ Maurice Mitchell and supervet Darvis “Doc” Patton, give the USA two more chances at finalists, if not medals.

Bottom line: The race is for second.

400 meters

Competition schedule:
Heats, Saturday Aug 27, 10:15 PM
Semifinals, Monday Aug 29, 7:00 AM
Final, Tuesday Aug 30, 6:55 AM

2009 medalists: LaShawn Merritt (USA), Jeremy Wariner (USA), Renny Quow (TRI)
The Americans: Tony McQuay, Greg Nixon, Jamaal Torrance, LaShawn Merritt
TFN medal picks: Kirani James (GRN), LaShawn Merritt (USA), Jermaine Gonzales (JAM)

2011 World List adjusted for altitude
Kirani James GRN 44.61
Jermaine Gonzales JAM 44.69
Tony McQuay USA 44.71
LaShawn Merritt USA 44.74
Chris Brown BAH 44.79

Superfan World Rankings
Jermaine Gonzales JAM 111
Kirani James GRN 109
Tony McQuay USA 91
Chris Brown BAH 83
Angelo Taylor USA 81 (not entered)

Chance of USA gold: Reasonable
Chance of USA medal(s): Likely

Much was made of Jeremy Wariner’s withdrawal due to injury, but the truth is that he was facing an uphill battle even to win a medal. The 400 is a young man’s event. Recall that Wariner himself won Olympic gold in his first year at a world-class level, as a 20-year-old college sophomore.

LaShawn Merritt ran well in his first and only appearance since coming off his suspension for doping of the truly knuckleheaded variety. Still only 25 years old, he could win, and many expect him to.

The other major threat is young Kirani James, the NCAA champ out of Alabama who recently turned pro. He will turn 19 years old on the day after the 400 final, and youth running fast in this event is hardly unusual. Remember that Steve Lewis ran 43.87 to win the 1988 Olympic gold when he was 19.

Another American, Tony McQuay, shouldn’t be taken lightly. He was the surprise runner-up to James at the NCAA Championships, and then the surprise winner of the USATF Championships. He hasn’t raced since then, though, so it’s very hard to tell where he’s at.

The rest of the medal contenders are guys like Jermaine Gonzales and Chris Brown, journeymen who are smart enough to sneak in for a medal if others falter, but lack what it takes to win. Texas A&M’s Demetrius Pinder (Bahamas) and Tabarie Henry (Virgin Islands) are also medal possibilities.

The other Americans, Greg Nixon and Jamaal Torrence, are long shots to make the finals.

Bottom line: Young men will run for gold.

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One Response to Worlds Preview: Men’s sprints

  1. Worlds is no longer 1 priority smh Asafa Powell pulled out the 100 gay hurt, mullings can’t run, Rodgers dropped out, this 100m final -____-