The Race For Glory at the Olympics: A Look at the 100m and 200m Sprint Finals
There are many events to look forward to at the Olympics. Few of these events are as entertaining and thrilling as the 100m and 200m race events. For about 20 seconds or less, it almost feels like one's breath is suspended as the race transforms
Athletes know that the 100m and 200m race is no easy feat, so to compete in the finals, you simply have to be the best. Over the past decade, various athletes have had to live under the shadow of the great Usain Bolt and have to settle for lesser medals — or none at all. Remember when all three Jamaicans won the 200m men's final?
After thirteen years of completely dominating these races Usain Bolt's retirement in 2017 meant that in 2021, new 100m and 200m champions would be crowned.
Strange enough, there was no favourite to win in any of these races. There were strong competitors of course, but there really wasn't any favourite. All the finalists were simply terrific runners and each of them had every right to be the next champion.
Not too many people know the state of mind of athletes before a race but Betway Insider sat down to talk with Canadian sprinter De Grasse before the start of the Olympics. He too was looking forward to how things would play out (spoiler - very well).
So, how did it go?
THE 100M SPRINT
In the 100m sprint, there were eight fantastic competitors who were proven champions in their own way.
There was the commonwealth champion Akani Simbine in lane 2. Lamont Marcell Jacobs smashed the European record in qualification. Su Bingtian in lane 6 had just broken the Asian record. Add a man who's no stranger to the Olympic podium Canadian Andre De Grasse in lane 6.
Included in the race was 21-year-old Nigerian Enoch Adegoke and also Zharnel Hughes who was disqualified for jumping the gun. American Ronnie Baker with a personal best of 9.83 alongside his countryman Fred Kerley was also competing.
The stakes could not be higher. This was the chance for Olympic glory for these men. Moments preceding the race were so tense you could reach out and touch it.
Everyone had the same question on their mind, who would be fast enough?
But we would have to wait a little more. Great Britain's Zharnel Hughes had repeated the mistake of his countryman Linford Christy who jumped the gun too in 1996. There was no question asked of his disqualification. Zharnel had looked so relaxed before the race, maybe a little too relaxed.
The race began and it was a spectacle right off the bat. The Nigerian youngster pulled up with an injury midway and that left us with six men in the race for glory.
And with the closest of margins, Italian Lamont Marcell Jacobs won the 100m sprint, running a personal best of 9.80. Fred Kerley hung on for the silver medal and Andre De Grasse finished in third — again.
Marcell Jacobs, confident as you like, despite a seemingly slow start, kept his cool and took the race. That was the fastest he had ever run in his life and what a time to do it and it wasn't just him because all the medalists finished with PB's.
Surprisingly Fred Kerley was on the podium. This was his first time competing in this race. The 400m race was his only thing before, but he said he was working on his speed so he could compete in more races and now, all we can say is good work.
Sadly, Canadian Andre De Grasse finished with the bronze medal again. Although there were no clear favourites, many would have put their money on him to win this one, having spent so much time coming behind Usain Bolt.
THE 200M SPRINT
Just when we thought we had gotten too much excitement at once from the 100m race, the 200m event swooped in.
The competitors were just as stellar as the ones in the 100m race and every other competition in the Olympic games. Just like all the other races that Bolt participated in over the years, there was a vacuum to be filled here.
Three Americans were part of this race. Erriyon Knighton, the 17-year-old, who was also the youngest ever to compete on this stage. Knighton is impressive but he is hardly a favourite to win the race or a medal.
Kenneth Bednarek was stunning in the qualifiers but still lived under the shadow of Noah Lyles, the reigning world champion and current fastest man in the world.
The 100m bronze medalist Andre De Grasse would also have his shot and he looked calm and poised for victory.
Alongside him was fellow countryman Aaron Brown who had previously gotten a silver medal in the Tokyo Olympics.
Included in the race also was Jereem Richards, the bronze medalist 4 years ago. Rasheed Dwyer, a commonwealth champion, and 19-year-old Liberian Joseph Fahnbulleh.
Given their past history as runners, Lyles and De Grasse appeared to be favourites. Of the two, De Grasse looked to take the not-so-popular underdog role. Then again, we all love underdogs. Still, there were no easy predictions with this one because all the athletes had legitimate claims to the 200m crown.
… so the race begins.
The gun goes off and at the bend, Noah Lyles was looking like the champion already. But it wasn't meant to be.
The tide shifted and in the run of his life Andre De Grasse managed a stunner and by the slimmest margins took the gold from Noah Lyles.
Lyles couldn't keep up his initial pace and had to settle for bronze with Bednarek coming out of the shadows to nail the silver medal.
It was a spectacular moment for Andre De Grasse who had somehow never won gold. Even after coming back from a tough injury, he still proved himself as one of the greats with a personal best of 19.62.
It was a bit surprising that the 17-year-old American Erriyon Knighton came in 4th and has now put himself on the watchlist in competitions to come.
Altogether, the races were brilliant. It clearly reminded us of the value of sports and how it brings out the best in us.