When Usain Bolt hung up his spikes four years ago, he left a huge void. For the first time since 2004, the Olympic gold medal winner in the men’s 100m sprint will not be Bolt.
Jamaica’s sprint king is now enjoying retirement and there are an array of sprinters sizing up the title in Tokyo in the 100m final on Sunday.
The favourite heading into this summer, Canada’s Andre de Grasse, 26, claimed Olympic bronze in Rio, behind Bolt and runner-up Justin Gatlin five years ago. That year, he also won bronze in the 4x100m relay and took silver in the 200m, becoming Canada’s first athlete to take medals in all three sprint events.
He has a close relationship with Bolt and the legendary Jamaican has said he sees himself in De Grasse.
With Bolt out the way, and Gatlin now 39, it looks as if De Grasse can succeed as champ. His status his slipped somewhat in recent months, however, as several other contenders have eclipsed him in 2021. Sadly, no Jamaicans are touted of even getting into the final, much less winning it, although Yohan Blake has been in cracking form leading up to the Games.
Potential medallists include South African Akani Simbine and the Americans Trayvon Bromell, Fred Kerley and Ronnie Baker.
Bromell has always been earmarked as a potential 100m gold medal winner but if he fulfils that potential in Tokyo, it will cap an incredible story.
Bromell has had a tough five years since the last Olympics. He injured his Achilles in the 4x100m in Rio and has since needed two surgeries to repair the damage.
He went nearly two years without competing and then, in his comeback in 2019, he hurt his thigh at about the 70m mark. His coach Mike Ford has since admitted to NBC that he feared Bromell might quit racing altogether.
So when Bromell stormed to a win in 9.80 in the US in June, it was no wonder he described it as a “marvellous feeing”.