Category Archives: Tyson Gay

“Freaks of Nature: Usain Bolt and Michael Johnson” by Joboy Quintos

In the sprints, an athlete aims to reach the finish line as fast as possible. Hence, he/she limits the time amount of time on the ground by being explosive. From the track literature I’ve read throughout the years, I’ve learned that stride frequency is genetic, while stride length can be improved through hard work. A sprinter can do as much explosive drills, plyometrics and Olympic lifts as humanly possible, but one’s stride frequency and explosiveness is limited by nature’s genetic endowment of fast-twitch muscle fibers.

Stride length and stride frequency are the major pillars of sprinting. A sprinter strives to achieve a balance between the two. To perfect the sprinting form, an athlete goes through a cacophony of running drills to master each facet of the deceptively simple picture-perfect sprinting form:

  1. Back erect
  2. Shoulders relaxed
  3. Jaw relaxed
  4. Arms pumping below eye level
  5. Hands relaxed, not tensed
  6. Knees pumping high like pistons
  7. The heel not going beyond one’s butt
  8. Toes dorsi-flexed

Among the elite sprinters, I like respective forms of 9-time Olympic Gold medalist Carl Lewis, 2007 Osaka 100m/200m World Champion Tyson Gay and 4-time Olympic Silver medalist Frankie Fredericks the best.

Among all the sprinters of the orthodox school, Usain Bolt epitomizes the synergy of stride frequency and stride length the best. At 6’5 (1.95m), Bolt is the tallest elite sprinter to date (Although the retired German 400m specialist Ingo Schultz is taller at 2.05m, his major achievement pale in comparison to Bolt!).  Naturally, Bolt has longer legs and longer strides than most other sprinters at the world level. His height does not prove a hindrance, however, as he seems to possess a degree of explosiveness more than sufficient to outclass his shorter competitors.

Bolt seems to have ample endowments of BOTH stride length and stride frequency, despite the apparent instability of his upper body relative to other sprinters – a minor aberration to this purveyor of speed!

At 1.85m (6’1), Michael Johnson is not as physically impressive as Bolt. Pound per pound, however, Johnson is more impressive than Bolt with the former’s erstwhile 200m world record of 19.32s and current 400m WR of 43.18s. His arched back, low knee lift and short strides defies textbook sprinting form.

Johnson relies on sheer explosiveness, leg power alone and out-of-this-world speed endurance, in light of his relatively shorter strides.

Usain Bolt may be the current toast of the athletics world (despite his recent loss to Gay). Bolt has single-handedly lifted the sport on his Zeus-like back. He is every inch the sport’s premiere icon, with his stellar 100m and 200m world records. But then again, there will come a time when someone just as tall and fast as Bolt, would emulate his feats.

The chances of another maverick who epitomizes Johnson’s sprinting style is even more remote.

Simply put, if there’s a index which rates one’s ranking in the freak of nature scale, Johnson ranks higher than Bolt in my book. But on the showmanship index? Bolt is up there along with likes of Shaq!

P.S.

Check out MJ’s reaction to Usain’s world record! This is priceless.

Article by Joboy Quintos

Photo credits:

ABC

Still an Usain Bolt Show

The Jamaican Olympic Trials were a revelation.

Usain Bolt’s 100m defeat to his young training partner, Yohan Blake, came as a surprise. Blake’s commanding victory in the 200m was even more astounding. Bolt has shown chinks in armor in the century dash, owing to his inconsistent start. But in the half-lap sprint, the great Jamaican sprinter has been peerless.

Bolt en route to the 200m dash gold in Beijing. (Photo from Richard Giles)

The aforesaid losses to Blake and rumors of lingering injury, have pushed some athletics pundits to tag Blake as the prime candidate for Olympic sprinting glory.

Read: “London Olympics Preview – The 100m Dash”

Read: “London Olympics Preview – The 200m Dash”

Those views are not entirely baseless. On paper, the 2012 Bolt is a far cry from his 2009 self. The Jamaican champion’s 100m and 200m season’s bests are at 9.76s and 19.83s, respectively -light years away from his world records of 9.58s and 19.19s. Coming into the London Olympics, Blake is the world leader in both of the aforesaid events (9.75s and 19.80s).

True enough, Blake has what it takes to beat his compatriot. The 2011 100m World Champion (in the absence of a disqualified Bolt), is the third fastest in the 100m all-time list, behind Bolt and Asafa Powell. Blake has a personal best of 19.26s in the 200m a mark only bettered by Usain’s world record of 19.19s and is the only man who can challenge Bolt in the half lap sprint.

Powell, the former 100m world record, has the necessary tools edge out Bolt in the century dash. But the 30-year old has been a perennial underachiever in the major championships. Tyson Gay, the 100m and 200m World Champion from 2007, also enjoys the tag as a potential Bolt-beater. The oft-injured Gay is one of only two men to beat a post-Beijing Olympics Usain Bolt in the 100m (the other is, of course, Blake). Gay, recently recovered from a hip operation, owns the second fastest time in the 100m at 9.69s, behind Bolt’s 9.58s world record.

    

Blake (L), Gay (C), and Powell (R). (Photos from Erik van Leeuwen, Eckhard Pecher, and Jonas Witt)

Judging by the stat sheets and the results of the Jamaican Olympic Trials, a monumental collapse by Usain Bolt is in the offing.

I beg to disagree because of four important factors.

First, Bolt has the most experience amongst the four contenders. The Jamaican has won sprinting titles in Youth, Junior and Senior World Championship events. He has been competing at the highest level of sport since he was 15-years old. No other athlete, save for Russian Pole Vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva and New Zealand’s Shot Putter Valerie Adams, have shown such consistency amongst the different age groups.

And of course, Bolt is the defending Olympic Champion. Blake, Gay, and Powell have yet to win individual Olympic golds.

Second, Bolt is a freak of nature. Speed is a function of stride length and stride frequency. Bolt, with his 1.95m/ 6’5 frame, excels in both departments. No Olympic or World sprinting champion was as tall and quick as Usain Bolt.

Third, Bolt has been in similar circumstances before. As a talented youngster, Bolt owns the World Youth best and the World Junior record in the 200m. His transition to the senior ranks, however, was marked by injury and a seeming lack of focus. Despite being popular in Jamaica, he was an unknown outside immediate athletics circles. There was a lull in his career from 2003 to 2008, until the Beijing Olympics where he romped to three Olympic Gold medals.

Lastly, Bolt has the ability to dig deep. In the glitz and glamour of the short sprints, people tend to overlook the fact that Usain once excelled in the 400m dash in his younger days. As a 16-year old, the Jamaican ran 45.35s, the sixth fastest ever by a Youth athlete. Although Gay has a faster personal best than Bolt in the quarter-mile, the latter has the necessary championship pedigree in the event. In my opinion, his background in the 400m is what sets him apart from his competitors. It puts him in a vastly different mindset.

Because of his long legs, we don’t usually see Bolt get the fastest start in the short dashes. But once his pistons start firing in full throttle, the race is over – more often than not. Indeed, it takes guts and determination to snatch victory from behind.

Despite the snags of Bolt’s 2012 season, the London 2012 Olympics shall still be Usain Bolt’s one big sprinting party.

London Olympics Preview: The 100m Dash

The Blue Riband event is the centerpiece of the Olympics. The athlete who wins the gold is dubbed as the world’s fastest man or woman.

Photo from Nigel Chadwick

Women’s 100m Dash

Until the Jamaican Olympic trials last June, Carmelita Jeter has been comfortably perched as the 2012 world leader. Jeter ran 10.81s at the same blue track in Kingston where the Jamaican trials were held.

A month later, the defending Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce demolished the American’s erstwhile 2012 standard. Fraser-Pryce ran a personal best, as she stopped the clock at 10.70s. Veronica Campbell-Brown came second at 10.82s.

 

Fraser-Pryce (L) and Jeter (R). Photos from Erik van Leeuwen and André Zehetbauer

Trinidadian Kelly-Ann Baptiste (10.86s) and Allyson Felix (10.92s) trails Campbell-Brown. Kerron Stewart (10.94s), Tianna Madison (10.96s), Murielle Ahoure (11.00s), and Blessing Okagbare (11.01s) occupy prominent positions in the top list.

The European challenge will be top billed by the comebacking Ivet Lalova Ивет Лалова (11.06s SB) and the mercurial Olesya Povh Олеся Повх (11.08s), who finished 1-2 at the European Championships in Helsinki.

   

Felix (L), Baptiste (C), and Stewart (R). Photos from Erik van Leeuwen

With the London Games barely two weeks away, the Jamaicans and the Americans are sure to figure in tough battle for gold.

The 25-year old Fraser-Pryce, fresh from setting lifetime bests in the 100m and the 200m, is at her prime. Jeter is six years older than the Jamaican Olympic Champion, but is coming into the Games as the reigning World Champion. the powerful American has a personal best of 10.64s from 2009. the second fastest behind Florence Griffith-Joyner’s 10.49s world record.

Stewart (10.75s, 2009), Campbell-Brown (10.76s, 2011), and Lalova (10.77s, 2004) are all sub-10.80s sprinters at their respective bests. Felix (10.92s, 2012) could figure in the fight for the podium as well, as long as she does not get left behind at the blocks.

My pick for gold is the defending champion, Fraser-Pryce. She has the momentum and she seems to be peaking just in time for London.

Top Three Predictions:

Gold: Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce

Silver: Carmelita Jeter

Bronze: Allyson Felix

Men’s 100m Dash

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Yohan Blake and Tyson Gay are the only ones capable of beating an in-form Usain Bolt. Former World record holder Asafa Powell has the necessary speed and breakneck start, but he just does not possess the mental toughness to live up to his potential in major championships.

   

Bolt (L), Gay (C), and Blake (R). Photos from Erik van Leeuwen [Bolt and Blake] and Eckhard Pecher [Gay])

True enough, Blake has inflicted back-to-back defeats in the 100m and 200m to his training partner, both at the Jamaican Olympic Trials. Gay triumphed over Bolt at the DN Galan in Stockholm back in 2010.

The fight for gold will be three-pronged between Bolt, Blake, and Gay, should the latter be able to find the spring in his legs again. Justin Gatlin is the dark horse. Coming from his two-year doping ban, he has a lot to prove and is intent on making his comeback complete by winning Olympic gold.

Gatlin wins the 2012 World Indoor 60m Dash title. (Photo from Erik van Leeuwen)

Blake (9.75s) and Bolt (9.76s) are the two fastest this year. The 2004 Athens Olympic Champion, Justin Gatlin, is in top form as he set a personal best of 9.80s en route to topping the tough U.S. Olympic Trials. Powell (9.85s), Keston Bledman (9.86s), and Gay (9.86s) round up the next three.

Watch out for the tall and powerful Ryan Bailey. Bailey finished third at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, setting a personal best of 9.93s.

 

Collins (L) and Lemaitre (R). Photos from André Zehetbauer and Erik van Leeuwen)

I’d love to see Kim Collins (10.05s SB) replicate his podium finish in Daegu, but the 2003 World Champion has not gone below the 10-second barrier this season. The French duo of Christophe Lemaitre (10.04s SB) and Jimmy Vicaut (10.07s SB) could once again barge into the final. Britain’s new sprinting talent, Adam Gemili (10.05s PB/SB), looks poised to make a mark as well.

I’m rooting for an injury-free Gay to finally wrest the Olympic 100m dash title. As the second fastest of all-time over the distance (9.69s), he has what it takes to come out on top. The youthfully exuberant Blake has the psychological edge, in the wake of his emphatic wins over Bolt.

If the world’s greatest sprinter gets his act together in London, the rest of the field – Gay and Blake included – will be competing only for the lesser medals.

Top Three Predictions:

Gold: Usain Bolt

Silver: Tyson Gay/Yohan Blake

Bronze: Justin Gatlin

Sources:

IAAF

Wikipedia

London Olympics Preview: The 200m Dash

Photo from Nigel Chadwick

Women’s 200m Dash

The ladies’ half-lap sprint, like most of the most of the dashes, will pit the United States versus Jamaica. With the Olympics barely two months away, the U.S. holds a commanding lead against the Jamaicans – on paper, at least.

 

Felix (L) and Campbell-Brown (R). (Photos from Erik van Leeuwen)

Out of the top ten performances this year, nine were run by Americans. The only exception is Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the Beijing 100m dash champion, who ran 22.10s at the Jamaican Olympic Trials. Allyson Felix is the world leader at 21.69s, the the fifth fastest all-time. The other two American bets in the 20m dash, Sanya Richards-Ross (22.09s) and Carmelita Jeter (22.11s) are ranked 2nd and 4th, respectively.

The American squad is a potent mix of quarter-mile talent (Richards-Ross), brute explosiveness (Jeter), and all-around sprinting excellence (Felix).

Going head-to-head against the Americans are experienced Jamaican troika of Fraser-Pryce, Veronica Campbell-Brown (22.38s), and Sherone Simpson (22.37s). The 27-year old Simpson is the 100m dash silver medalist from Beijing, behind Fraser-Pryce. Campbell-Brown is a living athletics legend, who is gunning for her third consecutive Olympic 200m dash title. VCB, as she is fondly called, ruled the 100m and 200m in Daegu, taking gold ahead of Jeter and Felix, respectively.

   

Richards-Ross (L), Fraser-Pryce (C), and Jeter (R). (Photos from Erik van Leeuwen [Richards-Ross and Fraser-Pryce] and André Zehetbauer [Jeter])

Other candidates for a spot in the final are Murielle Ahoure, Nercely Soto, Semoy Hackett, Blessing Okagbare, and Sheniqua Ferguson. The strongest European hopes are Ukraine’s Elyzaveta Bryzgina and Mariya Ryemyen and the Netherlands’ Dafne Schippers.

In terms of personal bests, Felix (21.69s – 2012) and Campbell-Brown (21.77s – 2008) are ahead of the pack, being the only two sprinters who had run below the 22-second barrier. Simpson has a personal best of 22.00s from 2006, set when she was just 21-years old. Richards Ross and Jeter, who had set their respective bests at the Olympic Trials in Eugene, are low-22 second speedsters.

Felix, Richards-Ross, Fraser-Pryce, and Jeter, in light of their recent lifetime bests, have the statistical upper hand. But VCB, as the two-time Olympic champion and the reigning world titlist, could just make it three straight. A repeat of Felix and Campbell-Brown’s Daegu duel could happen. The 200m is tough to call; it could go both ways.

As much as I’d like to see VCB take her third, straight half-lap gold, I have a strong feeling that London 2012 will be Allyson Felix’ dance with Olympic glory.

Top Three Predictions

Gold: Allyson Felix

Silver: Veronica Campbell-Brown

Bronze: Carmelita Jeter/Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce/Sanya Richards-Ross

Men’s 200m Dash

The top two spots in the men’s race is a two-pronged slug fest between training partners Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake.

 

Bolt (L) and Blake (R). (Photos from Erik van Leeuwen)

Bolt’s recent double defeats to Blake have exposed chinks in the Lightning Bolt’s armor. While his 100m dash defeat was not entirely shocking, considering the starting lapses Bolt has made of late, Blake’s 200m dash win is more surprising. Even if the 2011 100m dash World Champion owns the second fastest 200m clocking of all-time at 19.26s, Bolt’s 19.19s from Berlin is considerably faster.

At his best, the 100m/200m world record holder is undefeatable in the half-lap – even to an in-form Blake.

   

Lemaitre (L), Spearmon (C), and Martina (R). (Photos from Erik van Leeuwen [Lemaitre and Martina] and Eckhard Pecher [Spearmon])

With the absence of the injured Walter Dix (19.53s PB) and the comebacking Tyson Gay (19.58s PB) in the 200m dash field, the next best, non-Jamaican challenge will come from Wallace Spearmon (19.95s SB). Spearmon is the seventh fastest in over the distance, having a personal best of 19.65s from 2006.

France’s Christophe Lemaitre (20.31s SB) has a fair chance of landing a podium spot. Still only 22-years old, the Frenchman has a lifetime best of 19.80s from the 2011 Daegu World Championships where he took bronze, behind Bolt and Dix.

The other protagonists are Churandy Martina (19.94s SB) and Warren Weir (19.99s SB), both sub-20 sprinters this season. Martina initially won 200m dash silver in Beijing, but was disqualified due to a lane infraction.

Top Three Predictions

Gold: Usain Bolt

Silver: Yohan Blake

Bronze: Christophe Lemaitre/Wallace Spearmon/Churandy Martina.

Source:

IAAF

Thoughts on Bolt’s 100m Dash Loss

Young Yohan Blake defeated training partner Usain Bolt at the Jamaican Olympic Trials. Blake, the 2011 100m dash World Champion, shaved off a staggering seven-hundredths of a second off his personal best to convincingly win over the World 100m and 200m record holder. Blake stopped the clock in 9.75s to Bolt’s 9.86s. Asafa Powell was third in 9.88s.

The powerful Powell had a cracking start. The former world record holder actually led the field until the 60 meter mark, when Blake turned on his afterburners. Even Bolt’s usually dominating finish proved insufficient to turn the race into his favor. Although Bolt pipped Powell at the tape, by two-hundredths of a second, Blake scored a convincing victory.

This was Bolt’s first loss in the 100m dash since Tyson Gay beat him in Stockholm back in 2010.

Read: “Thunder Bolt”

Usain has shown chinks in his armor the past few races. At the Ostrava Golden Spike meeting this year, he ran a little over 10 seconds after a lackluster start. Although he has run the two fastest times in history (9.58s and 9.69s), other talented albeit slower sprinters are ready to pounce once Bolt lets down his guard.

Bolt at his best is practically unbeatable in the half-lap sprint. The 100m dash is a different ballgame altogether, considering the fact that the comebacking Gay had run 9.69s in the past. Powell (9.72s), despite his penchant for choking, has the necessary speed to edge out Bolt. With Blake’s victory in Kingston, a talented and confident challenger comes to fore.

Click here to view the 100m dash all-time list

Gay, Powell, and Blake has what it takes to beat Bolt in London.

Bolt’s loss at the hands of his training partner, as well as the near-missed he has had this season, could be beneficial in his defense of his Olympic titles. Bolt, after all, is human. He is no stranger to finishing second fiddle, having had a forgettable string of seasons prior to his breakout performance at the Beijing Olympics.

Usain Bolt, like the champion that he is, shall learn from this losing experience.

Fierce USA 4x100m Quartet clocks 37.45s

I love the gutsy performance of the American Men’s 4x100m relay team at the Zurich Diamond League. Without the pressure of a big level meet, the greatest sprinting nation in the world romped to a 37.45s world-leading time. The quartet of Trell Kimmons (who just ran a PB of 9.95s at the same meet), Wallace Spearmon, Tyson Gay and Mike Rodgers all contributed to the fifth fastest clocking of all-time, en route to their 5-meter drubbing of the Jamaican relay team.

The baton exchanges were far from perfect. In fact, the final pass between Gay and Rodgers was a little too stretched for comfort. But then again, these four haven’t ran together as much.

Watch the following clip from Universal Sports. Notice the fierceness on Tyson Gay’s face!

Additional links:

Results

Diamond League events report

Video Credits:

Universal Sports

2010 BCN Wrap-up: Underdogs and Finishing Kicks

The past two weeks have been quite exciting for this track & field buff. I had fun watching the future of athletic strut their stuff at the 2010 Moncton World Junior Championships. A week later, the Barcelona European Athletics Championships took place. And boy, did I have my fill of high caliber track & field action.

Despite the absence of marquee names such as Usain Bolt, Tyson Gay and the African distance specialists, the quality of the competition was superb since the cream of the crop of events like the heptathlon, the throws and the jumps originate from this storied continent. Europe, after all, is the hotbed of track & field.

Even though I’m thousands of kilometers away and every inch an Asian, I became so engrossed at the Euro Championships that I devoured every single video clip and news article that piqued my interest. Thanks to broadband internet, it seemed as if I was actually amidst the crowd, savoring the championship festivities.

Experience a panoramic view of the Barcelona Olympic Stadium

What I liked best about the 2010 Euro Champs are the underdog victories and last-ditch bursts of speed to the tape.

The Monstrous, Finishing Kicks (or last ditch leaps)

3.) 4x100m (M): Martial Mbandjock’s anchor leg:

2.) Long Jump (M): Christian Reif rewriting Robert Emmiyan’s championship record with his final jump:

1.) 200m (M): Christophe Lemaitre erasing Christian Malcolm’s lead:

The Underdogs

7.) 1500m run (W): Nuria Fernandez’s first major championship crown:

The 33-year old overcame fast-starting world leader Anna Alminova in a free-for-all dash to the tape.

6.) 4x400m (M): Russia wins first-ever 4x400m relay medal since 2002 – a gold at that!

5.) 200m dash (W): Myriam Soumare’s golden half-lap:

The French sprinter had the slowest PB among all finalists, but still managed to shave off a significant chunk of her previous best to win the gold:

4.) Decathlon: Romain Barras‘ Decathlon victory!

Barras hung-on to a 5-point lead coming into the 1500m run – and his first major crown.

3.) 4x100m (W): Ukraine grabs relay gold:

Ukraine, with its nifty passing, wins the 400m relay crown – without a Top 10 sprinter in its lineup!

2.) 400m dash (M): Kevin Borlee does a Marc Raquil:

The “other” Borlee twin came out of nowhere all the way to first place, ahead of his more illustrious brother, Jonathan, and two Britons.

1.) 100m dash (W): Verena Sailer’s decisive dive (and Soumare’s unexpected bronze)

I’m just a sucker for underdog stories. The football movies “Rudy” and “The Replacements” are one of my favorites. There’s an infectious magic found in those unexpected victories. It doesn’t have to a gold medal. Once an athlete exceeds his/her expectations and does the improbable, the sheer joy the athlete exudes is indeed priceless.

Being an athlete myself, I know how it feels to chase something distant, to give your all for a single larger-than-life goal.

Perhaps that’s why we love sports so much. Despite its fair share of scandals, sport brings out the best in our being human. Those Herculean feats inspire and sustain, enables us to smile more often amidst the reality that is life – to dream a little bit higher.

Video Credits:

EuroSport

Photo credits:

Yahoo News

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