Athletics: Sprint superpowers Jamaica, U.S. face off in Rio

Thu Aug 11, 2016 2:37pm EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Scott Malone

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - By most measures, like economics, technology or military might, Jamaica does not rival the United States. Not so on the track, where they stand as the superpowers of sprint.

All eyes will be on the two nations when the athletics program starts on Friday, with Jamaican superstar Usain Bolt looking to tie an Olympic record with an historic "triple-triple" of gold medal performances in the 100 meters, 200 meters and 4 x 100 meters relay.

The three-time Olympian, due to turn 30 on Aug. 21, the last day of the Rio Games, has vowed that this will be his last Olympics and arrived in characteristically combative form, vowing that his U.S. rivals will "feel my full wrath."

"They have not learned over the years that the more you talk, the more I will want to beat you," said Bolt, who won the three sprint events at the 2008 Beijing Games and 2012 in London.

The Jamaican will need to match that brash talk with his best performance of the season to top two-time Olympian Justin Gatlin, 34, and 21-year-old Trayvon Bromell on his Olympic debut. Gatlin has clocked a 9.8 seconds for the 100 meters this year, while Bromell has notched 9.84 seconds, both better than Bolt's 9.88 seconds, well off the world record of 9.58 seconds he set at the world championships in Berlin in 2009.

That could interfere with the Jamaican's goal of tying the Olympic record of nine Olympic golds in athletics held by "Flying Finn" Paavo Nurmi, in the 1920s, and American Carl Lewis, a generation ago.

The rivalry isn't limited to the men.

Four-time U.S. Olympian Allyson Felix, 30, said it provides a powerful motivation for both sides.   Continued...

Jamaica's Usain Bolt (R) and Yohan Blake celebrate after they won gold in the men's 4x100m relay final at the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium August 11, 2012. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn(