Good­bye Bolt ... hello Sim­bine?

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

ZURICH: Usain Bolt’s ri­vals will, for once, be glad to see the back of a man who has dom­i­nated global sprint­ing for the last decade but the sport of ath­let­ics will be far less en­thu­si­as­tic about bid­ding a fi­nal farewell to the charis­matic Ja­maican.

Bolt has com­pleted the sprint dou­ble at the last three Olympics and had he not been dis­qual­i­fied ahead of the 100 me­tres fi­nal at Daegu in 2011, the 30-year-old could have matched that feat at the last four world cham­pi­onships.

In an era blighted by dop­ing scan­dals, the Ja­maican has al­most sin­gle-hand­edly kept the sport afloat but his com­mand­ing reign will come to an end when he re­tires af­ter this month’s world cham­pi­onships, fi­nally al­low­ing other sprint­ers a look-in.

In the sim­ple mat­ter of who will take his place at the top of the 100 me­tres podium ei­ther at or af­ter Lon­don, Canada’s Olympic sprint medal­list An­dre de Grasse ap­pears to be just ahead of the pack as the lead­ing can­di­date.

“(De Grasse) shows up when it counts. That’s the mark of a vet­eran. Even though he has been in the sport not too long,” Justin Gatlin, Olympic gold medal­list in 2004 and run­nerup be­hind Bolt in Rio last year, told Reuters.

South Africa also has a new gen­er­a­tion of stars, led by Akani Sim­bine and Thando Roto, al­though with their na­tional cham­pi­onships tak­ing place in March, peak­ing twice in one sea­son could hin­der their hopes of vic­tory in Lon­don.

“It’s dif­fi­cult to be run­ning fast in March and hav­ing to peak for your na­tion­als and still find a way to be ready at the mid­dle of Au­gust,” for­mer 200m world cham­pion Ato Boldon told Reuters.

The door could also open for the United States, a tra­di­tional sprint pow­er­house but largely for­got­ten as a threat for a decade since Gatlin and Tyson Gay tested pos­i­tive for il­le­gal drugs.

How­ever, Chris­tian Cole­man put him­self on the map when he ran 9.82 sec­onds, the fastest time this year, dur­ing the US col­le­giate cham­pi­onships, while Trayvon Bromell won bronze at the world cham­pi­onships two years ago aged just 20.

But whether any ath­lete can come close to match­ing Bolt’s dom­i­nance and charisma is a dif­fer­ent mat­ter.

“You would have to have some­one who is dom­i­nat­ing, no one is do­ing that,” said Michael Johnson, for­mer Olympic cham­pion in the 200 me­tres and 400 me­tres.

“You would have to have some­one who has some­thing special he has in terms of per­son­al­ity,” the Amer­i­can told Reuters.

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