Powell, Gay, Bolt - Three card men!

Powell, Gay, Bolt - Three card men!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

BOLT. has changed the dynamics and has put a cat amongst the mice

Cat-and-mouse is a game best left to kids alone or to cats and mice. The countless delicate manoeuvres, both mental and physical, could break a man and bring him to his knees.

The men’s 100 metres at the Olympics and especially the long and winding road leading to it, is turning out to be a major game, not just of muscles, but nerves - not kids’ stuff.
First there were only two protagonists who never looked across for anyone but themselves. For want of a better term, they only had eyes for each other. Asafa Powell and Tyson Gay held the races and their results between them with a steely resolve. Can’t blame them. This event offers the best pay-days in track and field and they would love to monopolise it. However, the emergence of Usain Bolt has changed the dynamics and has put a cat amongst the mice. Psychologically, everyone is running scared!
First we saw the world-record run which still gives Gay nightmares.

Then we saw the ‘race’ at the National Championships. Can’t kill Asafa Powell, since he was coming off an injury and may have been overcautious. Can one imagine what would have been the arguments in the bars and prayer meetings if he had pressed the gas too hard and crashed? Idiot boy!

POWELL. there is no doubt that he is in world-record shape
Bolt, on the other hand, had little or nothing to lose, so he was ready to race. The new kid on the block does not worry about the manhole covers that might be missing. Knowingly or unknowingly, Bolt would have garnered a great deal of confidence from that race by just finishing ahead of Asafa. Did Asafa gain anything? Perhaps the confidence in knowing that he could run 9.90 and 9.97 without experiencing pain to the affected areas. Psychologically, he would have earned little since he didn’t blow Bolt away with his customary bullet start.

But they met in Sweden and the tables turned. The bullet start by Powell coupled with the worst technical race that Bolt has run all season ensured a morale-boosting victory for the Lucozade Sport man. 9.88 to 9.89! Shockingly, in all this, Bolt maintains a straight face and pronounces that he is still unsure if he will run the 100 metres in Beijing. Yeah. Right. What a piece of trickery!

Change gear a bit to the United States Olympic trials where Gay fell asleep in his 100m heats and almost failed to advance. That awakened him, and in the quarter-finals he went on to grab Asafa’s old Benz licence plate number “WR 9.77”. But of course Powell had moved on to a new licence plate “WR 9.74”. That too is old news as everyone now knows that the licence plate en vogue is “WR 9.72”.

In this July 5, 2008 file photo, Tyson Gay is helped to a wheel chair after falling during the first quarter-final heat of the men’s 200 metre race at the US Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo: AP)
Gay ran a blustery 9.68 in the final which must have given him a lot of confidence leading into the big one next month.
But every dog has its day and every puss has its four o’clock.

Unfortunately, he was hurt in the quarter-final of the 200 metres and reports that he suffered a ‘severe cramp’. If that is only a severe cramp, Bertland Cameron was lying about his hamstring injury in the semi-finals of the 400m at the 1984 Olympics. Gay sprang up and then fell like he was hit by a Waltham Park Road taxi! He said he would have returned to full fitness in 7-14 days. Crap. Who does he think he is, ‘Robocop’ or ‘Ironman’? He obviously was hurt more than his camp advertised and he might well miss the Games altogether. Hamstrings don’t heal in 7-14 days, they usually take 3-6 weeks or longer.

The 7-14 days prognostication was simply to tell Asafa and Bolt that they should not sleep any lighter. They should not be emboldened by his ‘slight’ injury. What a piece of trickery!
Even former Olympic champion Maurice Greene has given up on his countryman, by shifting his favouritism to Bolt. This is a direct quote from Greene speaking from Poland where he attended the World Junior Championships. “The person I wanted to win (Gay) just got injured, but Usain Bolt has set himself apart from the group. He is the man to beat right now and it’s going to be tough to beat him.”

Can’t be any clearer than that. Gay, in my humble estimation, is at the back of the pack or even out of the pack completely.
Now what about Jamaica’s pair of supermen who met over the 100 metres in Stockholm on July 22, 2008. That was a race that Asafa couldn’t afford to lose. He couldn’t afford to give another psychological edge to the new prince. This win for Powell sets him up nicely going into the Olympics where a new King will be crowned. Before the race he spoke about the advantages of lying low in the background. Well, that advantage went out the window with his three consecutive wins. Whatever pressure he faced last year has just returned. How he responds to it will again determine the colour of his medal. However, there is no doubt that he is in world-record shape. Can he run that fast after three rounds? Let’s wait and see.

This loss to Powell could have one of two effects on the inexperienced Bolt. It could shatter his confidence since he has not been beaten in the event, period, or it could be that the favourite tag is now on Asafa, which leaves him more relaxed to prepare away from the paparazzi. Oh! Let’s forget about that race, as we are still hearing, “he is not sure he will run the 100 metres in Beijing”. What a piece of trickery! Fact is, Bolt and coach Mills now see this race as a bonus sent from heaven and will return in August with more vigour, especially now that Gay is on the sidelines in the 200m and the Golden triple is in sight!

Both coaches Stephen Francis and Mills must be commended for maintaining a low profile in all of this hype. Mills in particular has played the game of the three-card-man to perfection, shifting his man out of the limelight and the obvious talk of the Jamaican duel.

Who would be current leader in the psychological battle for Beijing? Gay, who had inched back after his nightmare in New York with his 9.77 and 9.68 runs, is now ‘third and long’ because of his injury setback. Even if he is pain-free, he is certainly not race-ready.

Asafa Powell, whose success depends on a great start, is at least equal favourite after showing what I think is the best start ever, to beat Bolt in Sweden. Bolt is learning the three-card trade while he trains. He sits on the pile as equal favourite as the others are uncertain of his actions and how well he starts. He is seen by the two old boys, because of his steam-train finish, as the new bully on the block. Bullies can be beaten, especially if they are ambushed. Can Powell repeat that unworldly start and hold on for 100 metres this time? Don’t blink or you’ll miss another major piece of trickery!

Not sure I agree that Tyson isn’t race ready. He hasn’t been out that long and there are 4 races in the 100m in Beijing.
Just out of interest, as Osaka was also in Asia, how long was Tyson off before that Championships?

London Grand Prix, August 3 2007, 22 days before rounds of WC’s. 10.02 (-0.8) and 1st place.

OK, so how many days from the last run at his trials till the first heat of the 100m? I note a new schedule with the 100 over three days instead of two- did I read it right?

Are you talking about Beijing?

Heats & Quarters Aug 15
Semis & Finals on Aug 16

Full Schedule at

I wonder what I was looking at- this is the normal set-up.
So IMO, Tyson should do a rehearsal session 10 days out and follow the usual 10 day taper. he can do the rehearsal session in private under full control. if it goes well, he should be fine for the games.