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Blake, Bolt showdown to overshadow American challenge

BY KARYL WALKER Online news editor walkerk@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, July 09, 2012 | 4:44 PM    

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YOHAN 'The Beast' Blake must be bubbling with confidence following his double victory over triple world record holder Usain Bolt at the recently held Jamaican Olympic trials at the National Stadium.

If a sluggish start was the reason given for Bolt's second place finish in the 100 metres, notice must be taken of Blake's 9.75, a personal best and world leading time. Only Bolt, Tyson Gay and former world record holder Asafa Powell, have bettered Blake's time and they will also be lining up in the 100 metres in London.

While Bolt and Powell present a genuine challenge to the reigning world champion Blake, Gay is still recovering from hip surgery and although he beat rival Justin Gatlin in the 100 metres at the Areva Diamond League in the Stade de Fance in Saint-Denis in France last Friday, his time of 9.99 outside that expected from a top gun.

In fact, Gay's time would not have earned him a place on the Jamaican team as Bolt clocked 9.86 for second and Powell 9.88 in our National trials. Indeed, Gay would be watching the race from home like the rest of us.

Gatlin also posted a pedestrian time of over 10 seconds in placing second in that race.

Nonetheless, in the US trials, Gatlin posted 9.80 to beat Gay (9.86) and Ryan Bailey (9.93). That said the Americans are hard pressed to do much better if they are to threaten the Jamaican sprint juggernaut that is poised to crush the opposition in Britain.

Throughout Bolt's career he has not lost very often. A true competitor, the world record holder is sure to get his act together and come out all guns blazing to silence his detractors who have have blamed his party lifestyle for his recent losses. Even though he has hailed Blake's talent and the two are from the same training camp, Bolt and Blake are both gunning for the big prize and none will be giving up any ground on the basis of friendship.

Blake on the other hand must still be basking in his recent success and won't be handing Bolt any gifts.

It would be foolish to rule out Asafa Powell as a spoiler. This will most likely be his last Olympic Games, and surely the man who held the world record and was the country's top sprinter before Bolt stole his crown, must be hungry and will be in medal contention.

Trinidadian sprinter Richard Thompson and Europe's fastest, Christophe Lemaitre should also prove worthy competitors

Slow start apart, Bolt was well and truly beaten by Blake in the 200 metres. He ran his trademark blistering turn and came into the homestretch on top but was caught by a fast finishing Blake. Blake's heroics augers well for Jamaican sprinting as there is now a genuine challenge to Bolt and he will be forced to train that much harder in order to keep his crown from being snatched, just as he snatched Powell's.

The main threat to the Jamaican pair should come from the USA's Wallace Spearmon, while Warren Weir will gain valuable experience on his first trip to an Olympic Games.

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