US sprinters firmly in the spotlight
Fraser-Pryce was Jamaica's lone bright spot at the Doha World Championships as their male sprinters falter.
The US sprinters have taken centre stage in the post-Usain Bolt era. Christian Coleman and Noah Lyles are their new flagbearers.
Coleman stormed to victory in the 100M while Lyles was unstoppable in the 200M. Quite expectedly, the 4x100M relay went the US’ way too with a star-studded line-up in Coleman, Justin Gatlin and Lyles. Michael Rodgers was their fourth runner.
Gatlin, the most experienced sprinter in the US team and who finished second behind Coleman in the 100M, was optimistic about the future. Speaking after his team’s relay victory on Saturday, he said, “They are a very promising bunch of runners and with more of them coming through I think the future of US sprinting is in good hands.”
Gatlin also said that the overall level of sprinting had risen across the world.
“New sprinters from various countries are continuously raising the bar and that is heartening. Our runners have always been up to the challenge and I’m sure they will continue to excel,” he added.
In the women’s sprints, 24-year-old Brittany Brown seems to be the US’ next big challenger. She ran Great Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith close in the 200M to win silver.
The US women’s sprinters may not have dazzled at the World Championships, but they did make their presence felt. With age clearly on their side, they can be a force to reckon with in the future.
In contrast, the other great sprinting nation – Jamaica – seem to be facing challenging times. In Doha, their male sprinters faded into the background. Main medal prospect Yohan Blake was a disappointment. He finished fifth in the 100M final and sixth in the 200M heats.
Like Blake, Andre Ewers and Rasheed Dwyer also exited in the 200M heats, leaving no runner from the island nation in the event’s final. Similar was the case in the men’s 4x100M relay. The team finished fifth in the heats.
Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce as well as the women’s relay team provided a silver lining. Fraser-Pryce won the 100M and guided the 4x100M women’s relay team to victory. The other medal prospect for Jamaica, Elaine Thompson the reigning Olympic champion, came up short in the 100M and then pulled out of the 200M due to injury.
Fraser-Pryce, aged 32, is not getting any younger though. Jamaica will be hoping that Thompson can take over from her older compatriot and keep the country’s sprint dreams alive.
The 4x400M men’s and women’s relay teams, gave off their best but were overshadowed by the US runners. But Nathon Allen, a member of the silver medal winning 4x400M men’s team, exuded optimism. “We are optimistic that we can match the best. A little more hard work and who knows we could be on top at the Olympics”.
The Olympics looms in July-August next year. The US sprinters have sounded a note of warning with their display in Doha. Can Jamaica come up with a strong challenge in the Japanese capital?