In 2008 and 2012, Usain Bolt became the first man in Olympic history to complete the 100m and 200m double. By winning the gold medal in both races at Beijing and then London, the Jamaican sprinter ensured his name would be etched, as the greatest sprint runner of our time.
Not only did Bolt win the individual 100m and 200m races at both games, he was also part of the successful Jamaican 4x100m relay team, which captured the gold medal in Beijing and London. On the final day of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Bolt will turn 30 and therefore, this will surely be his last games, at the very highest level. Indeed, as Bolt confirmed his appearance at the Diamond League meeting in London, prior to the Rio Olympics, the crowd favourite announced he will run his last Olympic races in Brazil.
The majority of onlookers, probably think Bolt’s target in Rio, is to win yet another two individual golds and the 4×100 relay. It goes without saying, the Jamaican athlete will be targeting the gold medal in each, however, Bolt has a different target in mind, as his number one goal this summer. Speaking during his announcement to race in London, Bolt spoke about how he wants to set a new record in the 200 metres, by running under 19 seconds.
“I’d love to try to go sub-19. That’s the only thing I would really, really want because that’s one of my goals”, commented Bolt.
It’s not the first time Bolt has talked about doing this and back in 2013, he spoke about exactly what is required in order to complete the feat. Not only will Bolt need to be in 100% physical condition but the race track will need to be ideal and the weather conditions perfect. Of course, there is only one thing which Bolt can actually control himself, which is his physical condition but even then, injury can strike at any time, especially as an athlete becomes older.
It was at an Olympic Games, back in 2008, when Bolt broke the 200m world record, knocking 0.02 seconds off the record held by American legend Michael Johnson. Bolt has since run 19.19 seconds, at the 2009 World Champions in Berlin but has failed to improve on that record since. His best run in the 200m since that date, was during the Olympic final in London, 4 years ago, which was also the last time he has run under 19.5 seconds.
So, will Usain Bolt be able to achieve his dream of running under 19 seconds in the 200m at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio?
If form since the Berlin World Championships is anything to go by, the answer has to be no. Statistics suggest he has slowed down in recent years and even though some of the best sprinters of all time have not peaked until well in to their late 20’s, Bolt may have passed his prime in his mid-20’s. There is also the other competitors to think about. With the likes of Justin Gatlin showing what he is capable of during the last year, is it even a certainty Bolt will win the 200m final in Rio? It’s typical of the man, that rather worry about winning the gold medal, he is focused on a bigger goal. Perhaps that’s what propelled him to victory over Gatlin last time the pair met at a big event, in the 2015 World Championships.
Also, will it be possible to train hard and well enough for the 200m, with the 100m also looking set to be a very competitive race? When it comes to sprinting and athletics in general, the men’s 100m final is the show-piece event and this won’t change for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. However, is there any way to predict exactly how Bolt will perform? Last year, at the World Championships, Gatlin was in much better form heading in to the event but Bolt still managed to produce the goods when it mattered most.
Dutch statistics company, Infostrada, have predicted Bolt to miss out on the gold medal in the 100m at the Olympic Games. The reason being, he has not competed in enough events over the course of the last few years. However, Infostrada also predicted Bolt would miss out on the gold medal in London four years ago and look what happened there.
The prospect of Usain bolt breaking the 19 second barrier in the 200m at Rio is fantastic but if truth be told, it’s not very likely. That being said, those people writing him off to complete the triple, triple of gold medals should be very careful. Bolt has proven he does not need to show great form before a major event, to deliver the goods.