Usain Bolt enters finishing straight – and what a journey it’s been
Usain Bolt’s entire career has been a race against time, and more often than not the great Jamaican has come out on top.
But on this occasion, time, at last, has caught up with him.
The world’s greatest sprinter is hanging up his spikes after this year’s World Athletics Championships in London, bringing an end to almost a decade of dominance.
It’s eight years since he almost defied science to blast through the 100m in 9.58 seconds, and four days later he did the same in the 200m with a 19.19.
We may have to wait a very, very long time before anyone gets close to those figures.
Bolt has had the personality to match the speed, and has become athletics’ greatest marketing asset for the past 10 years.
He’s clean too. Of the 30 fastest 100m times ever recorded, Bolt holds nine of them, and the other 21 have all been from runners subsequently banned from the sport.
So, what does Bolt have left in the tank for his last hurrah London?
Time after time the 30-year-old has simply cruised to victory, yet he faces perhaps his toughest fight if he is to go out with one more gold.
Six men have run faster than Bolt this year, whose 2017 Personal Best is 9.95.
Year after year time has taken something back off Bolt, and there are pretenders to his soon-to-be vacated throne.
Notably Christian Coleman, a man many are tipping to take up Bolt’s mantel.
The American has smashed sub-10 seconds six times already this year, with his best being a very handy 9.82.
Only 21-years-old, Coleman certainly has the ability. But he has yet to garner the experience, which may explain why he’s the 8/1 fourth-favourite.
According to the odds, Bolt’s nearest challenger is compatriot Yohan Blake at 5/1, who has run 9.90 this season.
Blake is the second fastest man of all time at 9.69, but niggling injuries through the summer may hinder his cause in London.
Justin Gatlin could be the thorn in Bolt’s side at 6/1. The American says he’s in good shape, but at 35-years-old, time isn’t on his side either.
There is one reprieve for Bolt however, after the withdrawal of Andre de Grasse through injury.
So it comes down to this. The stats show Bolt has been losing his edge year after year, but all his major rivals face their own issues too.
Coleman lacks the experience, Blake has had injuries, and Gatlin is five years’ Bolt’s senior.
Can Bolt end a glittering gold medal laden career in the way many feel he deserves? We’ll find out on Saturday night as time winds down on one of athletics’ greatest champions.
Ladbrokes Latest Betting:
World Athletics Championships – Men’s 100m
Usain Bolt – 4/11
Yohan Blake – 5/1
Justin Gatlin – 6/1
Christian Coleman – 8/1
Click here for all the latest World Athletics Championship odds
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing