TYSON GAY will probably be more satisfied than Yohan Blake after their respective 100m performances as both athletes head into their domestic trials to decide Olympic selection. Gay’s injury problems have been widely reported and while it would be churlish to say he’s back to his best form, a 10.00 opener into a 1.5 m/s headwind shows the 2007 world champion should be a contender for a place on the US team which is something that seemed improbable a few months ago when there were reports of further complications with his hip and no word on where he would, if at all, open his season. In no wind, Gay’s performance equates to a 9.90 100m which is identical to Yohan Blake’s time in the ‘A’ race, even with the aid of a following wind. Gay admits he is still feeling discomfort from the hip which is his rationale for only doing the 100m this year and while he showed good form in a one-off race, how will his body stand up with the rigours of the rounds at the US Olympic Trials where he needs to run hard three times in 24 hours?
For Sanya Richards-Ross and Allyson Felix, it’s a case of which events to contest at the US Olympic Trials. Should they just focus on their specialist events or try and double up? Richards-Ross is the early front-runner for the Olympic 400m title but the US record-holder might be thinking about also trying the 200m on the basis of a 22.09 world-lead and PB in New York. Richards-Ross sometimes struggles with the work-load of running multiple rounds but the 200m comes after the 400m at both the US Olympic Trials and the Olympic Games so Richards-Ross won’t be unnecessarily hurting her chances over 400m. Felix, on the other hand, is a 200m specialist but can also turn her hand to the 100m and 400m. However, these events come before the 200m at the trials and at the Olympic Games and as good as Felix can be, she perhaps hasn’t done as well in the 400m as some expected and while doing the 100m won’t be detrimental to her chances in the 200m, her start, as it did in New York, can let her down.
The early pace in the 5000m might have been sedate but this should not detract from Tirunesh Dibaba’s world-class finishing speed. Dibaba must have been on tired legs as she’d just run under the Olympic 10,000m qualifying time last weekend but the reigning double Olympic champion still posted an unofficial final 1500m of 4:05.6 and a closing kilometre of 2:39.7 en route to victory in the 5000m. Dibaba’s finishing time of 14:50.80 was still half-a-lap slower than her world record time but she inflicted a decisive defeat on Meseret Defar and in a manner which was much more convincing than Vivian Cheruiyot’s early-season sit-and-kick victories over Defar. While this might not be the most accurate barometer of their respective form, Dibaba probably won’t be unduly concerned about Cheruiyot at this stage. As well as boasting unprecedented last lap finishing speed, Dibaba demonstrated there’s more to her repertoire as her sustained push in the final mile showed.
David Rudisha was imperious in the 800m and surely won’t be beaten in London even though a world record-holder hasn’t won an Olympic 800m title since 1972. The Kenyan won in 1:41.74 and now holds five of the nine fastest times of all-time. Even though the Olympic final won’t be run at such a blistering pace (unless Sammy Tangui makes the Olympic final, that is), Abubaker Kaki, who is part of a select group of athletes with an outside chance of defeating Rudisha in London, didn’t show much mental fortitude as he stepped off the track in a defeatist manner at the bell.
Kenenisa Bekele is still being billed as Mo Farah’s greatest rival at the Olympic Games but let’s not forget about Bernard Lagat in the 5000m. His victory over a high-calibre 1500m field shows, at 37, he can still cope with the leading milers despite focusing on the 5000m. Lagat, as demonstrated by his 3000m victory at the World Indoor Championships, is regarded as the consummate championship performer and his tactical prowess and finishing speed will be difficult to match in London.