The 2015 World Championships in Beijing is still three months away, but the battle line has been drawn between Jamaica and the USA, as both teams get set to go all out in asserting their superiority in the sprints, following a spectacular display by the US men’s 4x100m relay team at the IAAF World Relays in the Bahamas earlier this month.
The quartet of Michael Rodgers, Justin Gatlin, Tyson Gay and Ryan Bailey stunned the Jamaican team anchored by Usain Bolt, winning GOLD with a World Lead (WL) of 37.38s as against Jamaica’s 37.68s, despite Bolt’s scorching split of 8.65s!
Since taking the world of athletics by storm at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing when the Jamaican team, led by Bolt, put paid to USA’s domination in the sprints, the Caribbean country has remained a thorn in the flesh of the Americans who are now battling to reclaim their ‘exclusive’ title of being the world’s best in the short distance races and the relays.
And despite the recent defeat to Team USA in Nassau, Bolt is convinced that he only needs more races to attain full fitness, and revealed that he looks forward to payback time for the Americans in Beijing in the video below:
On the flip side, Team USA believes that the victory over Jamaica signals the dawn of a new era, and so anchor-man, Bailey, celebrated the feat by imitating Bolt’s signature gesture, but then turned it into a throat slash, signifying the end of Jamaican domination in the sprints and relays. However the demonstration drew the ire of Jamaican fans who felt that it was disrespectful to their hero.
But then the mystery shrouding Bolt was somewhat demystified after an injury-plagued 2014, which saw the greatest sprinter of all time pull out of some key races, running the 100m only twice. That wasn’t enough to stop him from anchoring the Jamaican team to a Championship Record (CR) of 37.58s at the Commonwealth Games in Scotland though.
Nevertheless, it revealed a vulnerable side to him, which also indicated that he was human after all, and perhaps beatable. The Americans were quick to assert that their good luck in the Bahamas and the Penn Relays was no fluke, and that the win is only a reflection of a new order which sees the USA reclaim its ‘rightful’ position as the No.1 Sprint nation in the world. Click on the video below and watch Bailey tell reporters “We just established our dominance as a sprint country as we were in the past”.
The tension between both countries is already palpable, and it remains to be seen how the clash goes down in Beijing. Bolt’s comments in the media saying that Gay should have been banned for life, also added fuel to an already intense situation. Members of both relay teams could barely stand each other in the post-race press conference; one could literally slice through the tense atmosphere with a knife.
Gay went on to express his disappointment at Bolt’s position, though he conceded that the Jamaican was entitled to his opinion. And though the TRIPLE world record holder later admitted that he enjoys the rivalry that has been brewing between both countries over several decades, he was reluctant to take pictures alongside the American team. Watch Bolt take a walk from the conference room before the conclusion of the photograph session (oops):
It doesn’t help that Gatlin is currently the world leader in the 100m and is considered a major threat to Bolt’s world title defence. He ended the 2014 season as the fastest man in the 100m/200m and is on course to replicate the same feat in 2015 after blowing away the rest of the 100m field at the IAAF Diamond League in Doha last weekend, setting a WL of 9.74s, the fastest by a male athlete since 2012!
He also reclaimed the No.1 spot from Jamaica’s Asafa Powell who also looks like a contender for a medal in Beijing after becoming the first man to run a sub-10 this year (9.84s) at the Jamaican Invitational earlier this month. It’s going to be smoking hot in China no doubt!