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Dublin: 13°C Sunday 16 May 2021

Ailis McSweeney: Track and field needs athletes like Bolt

The Jamaican 100m star last night proved to the world that he is the best around.

Image: Stephen Pond/PA Wire/Press Association Images

LAST NIGHT WAS fantastic for world athletics.

Track and field needs Usain Bolt to keep the love of the sport alive. While the drama of his Jamaican trials defeat made for a fascinating build-up, no one wanted to see him lose the Olympic gold.

He did better than just win, running 9.63s, the second fastest time in the history of men’s sprinting. There’s no point in talking about Bolt’s “bad” start anymore. He proved in the semis and in the final that he can get out of the blocks as quickly as everyone else. Blake did well to hold onto silver, despite pressure from the US athletes.

You have to feel for Tyson Gay, who leaves London empty-handed while drug-cheat Gatlin has a bronze hanging around his neck. The second fastest athlete of all time, Gay’s body just let him down with injury problems year after year. The good news is that you don’t have long to wait to see Bolt in action again! The 200m heats are on just before midday on Tuesday morning.

There are two one-lap finals on tonight’s schedule. In the men’s 400m hurdles, Javier Culson will be running for Puerto Rico’s first Olympic athletics medal ever and maybe for their first gold in any discipline. Already a hero back home because of his World silver medals, Culson is unbeaten this season.

All the athletes ran a lifetime or a season’s best to qualify for the final, except the GB team captain and defending World Champion, Dai Greene. Greene barely snuck into the final as a fastest loser. He won’t cross the line in last place in front of a home crowd but a top three finish seems like a long shot.

Culson and Greene will be challenged by two Olympic veterans – double Olympic Champion Angelo Taylor (33) and Felix Sanchez (34), the gold medallist from Athens. On the other end of the age scale, and firmly in the mix, is Jehue Gordon, only 20 years of age and a former World Junior Champion. It’s hard to believe that Michael Tinsley had never represented USA at a major international before.

The US athlete won his semi-final looking like a seasoned championship runner. Tinsely could spring a medal surprise, despite the fact that he has never run under 48 seconds before. The combination of speed – endurance and a technical aspect make the 400m hurdles a great event for the spectator.

When the 2008 champion LaShawn Merrit pulled up in the 400m heats, this event was blown wide open. It was a case of good-riddance for the convicted drug cheat. Belgian twins, Kevin and Jonathon Borlée, have made it to a world final for the second year in row. The brothers will do their warm up together as usual and say that in a final they don’t run against each other.

According to Kevin, “it’s the two of us against the others, we just push and help each other run faster.”  However, they book-end the lanes for the final which is an unfortunate draw. The European record of 44.33 is under threat if the Borlées have something left in the tank after a gruelling three days racing in a row.

Last year’s World Champion Kirani James had a low key season but qualified with ease and a season’s best and is a slight favourite for gold.

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About the author:

Ailis McSweeney

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