Olympic Men's 100m Preview: Usain Bolt v Justin Gatlin

Updated Monday 15th August 2016, 08:14 AM

The men’s 100m final is the blockbuster event of any Olympics, the moment when even non-sports fans pause to watch the race to be named the fastest person on the planet. The spine-tingling silence of anticipation at the starting blocks gives way to an explosion of energy and excitement, and less than ten seconds later one man will stand alone at the top of the world. It is an occasion that creates legends, like Usain Bolt, who has proved himself to be one of the greatest names in the history of sport.

Gold medals are not just handed out for ambling down the track, though, no matter how easy Bolt can make it look, and he will have to work hard to beat his rivals to the line. The biggest threat comes in the form of Justin Gatlin, who is seen in many people’s eyes as the villain to Bolt’s superhero following a failed drugs test earlier in his career, and the showdown between the two sprinters is set to captivate the watching world.

How the Bookies See it

  • 100m Winner: Usain Bolt 4/7, Justin Gatlin 15/8, Trayvon Bromell 12/1, Yohan Blake 14/1 - Paddy Power
  • Without Bolt and Gatlin: Trayvon Bromell 7/4, Yohan Blake 7/4, Andre De Grasse 6/1 - Sky Bet
  • Top 3 Finish: Usain Bolt 1/12, Justin Gatlin 1/8 Trayvon Bromell 6/4, Yohan Blake 6/4 - Ladbrokes

The Contenders

Usain Bolt believes he needs to win a ‘triple treble’ to be considered alongside Muhammad Ali and Pele in the pantheon of sporting gods. He won the 100m, 200m and 4 x 100m relay at both Beijing and London and has declared that this will be his final Olympics. Now 30, Bolt had to pull out of the Jamaican trials in early July with a slight hamstring injury and has not raced a huge amount this year, but he proved his fitness at the London Anniversary Games and is in a typically confident mood.

Personal Best - 9.58 secs, Season’s Best - 9.88 Secs

Justin Gatlin won Olympic 100m gold back in Athens 2004 before failing a doping test two years later. An initial eight-year ban was reduced to four and he has been Bolt’s main challenger since returning to athletics in 2010, although many of his critics still feel uneasy about him taking part. Gatlin has dominated the regular Diamond League circuit, which Bolt enters sparingly, for the past couple of years and clocked the fastest time in the world this year when he won the US Olympic trials in 9.80 secs

Personal Best - 9.74 secs, Season’s Best 9.80 secs

Trayvon Bromell, 21, will be going to his first Olympics after qualifying behind Gatlin at the US trials and is seen as a champion of the future.

Personal Best - 9.84 secs, Season’s Best 9.84 secs

Yohan Blake was runner-up in London and won the Jamaican trials in Bolt’s absence. He has run some of the fastest times in history, but has been beset by injuries for much of the last four years.

Personal Best - 9.69 secs, 9.94 secs

Sports.net’s View

Judging purely on the times that both main contenders have run this year, Gatlin is in better form than Bolt. However, if there has ever been a man for the big occasion, it is Bolt, who tends to save his best for when it really matters. He went into last year’s world championships in Beijing seriously undercooked but managed to edge out Gatlin by a hundredth of a second, and he is better prepared this time around.

Gatlin is Mr Consistent and will probably run somewhere between 9.70 and 9.85, but Bolt is capable of so much more. He recorded a season’s best time of 9.88 in Kingston when he stumbled out of the blocks and then eased down as he crossed the line. As long as he gets a semi-decent start he is likely to prove too strong, although it is doubtful whether he is quite in good enough shape to threaten his own world record of 9.58.

The race behind the big two could be just as fascinating, with Bromell very much emerging as the coming force of men’s sprinting. Yohan Blake is a class act though and, finally clear of injuries in the build-up to Rio, he could gain some momentum through the rounds and deliver another medal for Jamaica, perhaps even pushing Gatlin for silver.

  • Sports.net’s top tips: Usain Bolt to win at 4/7 with Paddy Power and Yohan Blake to finish in the top three at 2/1 with Sky Bet

*Please note, odds may fluctuate.

** Disclaimer: Neither Sports.net nor the advertisements displayed on this page are affiliated with the Olympic Games in any way

Last Updated: Monday, 15 August 2016 08:14:31+00:00
Published By Sports.net

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