The talk all season long has been about how it was just a matter of time until Usain Bolt put things together and got into the shape he was in for the 2008 Olympics and 2009 World Championships. He broke world records in the 100 and 200 meters on both of those occasions.
With just over a month until this year’s Worlds in Daegu, South Korea, Bolt is no longer a clear favorite to defend his World titles. He narrowly defeated fast-charging countryman Nesta Carter on Friday in the 100 meters at the Diamond League meeting in Monaco. Bolt finished in a time of 9.88 seconds, just two-hundredths ahead of Carter’s 9.90 seconds.
Unlike many of his races this season, Bolt got a good start and was even with his competitors through the drive phase. But by the 35 meter mark, an area of the track where Bolt typically begins blowing by his competitors, he was unable to pull away and shut the door on anyone challenging him for the win. Carter actually managed to gain ground in the final meters but ultimately ran out of room.
This development should have the Bolt camp very worried. The world’s fastest man has typically been able to overcome bad starts due to his overwhelming top-end speed but this ability is now in doubt.
Former world record holder Asafa Powell now takes over the helm as the favorite for Daegu. Powell has looked dominant in 2011, winning three of the four Diamond League contests he’s taken part in as well as taking the Jamaican national title. He has also run the world leading time of 9.78 seconds in Lausanne. The only reservation about Powell is his tendency to fall apart in big races. He has entered several championship meets as a contender to win but has only walked away with two individual bronze medals at World Championships.
Bolt’s final test before Worlds comes next week in Stockholm where he is set to run the 200 meters. The World Championships kick off on August 27 with the heats of the 100 meters.
Usain Bolt eeking out a win in Monaco