My Pick For Rio: Men’s 200m

Time and Date of Men’s 200m Final: 22:30 BRT (18 AUG) / 03:30 CEST (19 AUG) 

Defending Olympic Champion from London 2012: Usain Bolt

The 200m is one of my favourite events and I can’t wait to see if Bolt manages to win his third consecutive gold – he was already the first man to successfully defend the 200m title when he won four years ago in London. Go to the bottom of the page if you want to see why I think he’ll succeed. Otherwise, here are some of the other athletes to look out for.

Nathaneel Mitchell-Blake (Great Britain). The 2nd fastest Briton of all time with 19.95 s. He’s just 22 years old and unproven on the global stage, but he obviously has enough speed to have a breakthrough.

Miguel Francis (Antigua & Barbuda). I don’t know much about him, but a surprising 19.88 s makes him the 4th fastest this year and someone to look out for.

Alonso Edward (Panama). A world silver medalist with a PB of 19.81 s from 2009 in Berlin behind Bolt’s world record run. He was just 19 years old at the time, but since then he has been plagued with a couple of injury problems that prevented him from challenging for more global medals. He’s a good starter and has good finishing speed. Watch out for him if he gets into the final.

Adam Gemili (Great Britain). A little bit of trivia is that we share the same birthday and a footballing background. Couple that with his positive attitude and a likable persona and what we get is an athlete that I really like to watch. Despite being a 100m world junior champion in 2014, I still believe that the 200m is his best event. He’s a sub 20 performer at his best (19.98 s) and has a season’s best of 20.07 s. He was 5th at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow, so he has some valuable experience with running on the big stage against the very best. He usually runs the bend pretty hard and has a very nice transition into the straightaway. There’s no doubt in my mind that medals will be won by running under 20 seconds and I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for Gemili. But given the company he’ll be in in Rio, I give him only a 10 % chance of getting into the top 3.

Andre De Grasse (Canada). Another one of my favourite young sprinters, but he’s not quite burning up the track as he did last year. I’m sure he’ll peak in Rio though, and I hope he can get into the final. If he does, anything can happen because he’s mentally strong and has great speed in the finishing straight.

Yohan Blake (Jamaica). He was Bolt’s main rival in London, but dealing with injuries in the years since then has made him pass on that title to Justin Gatlin. Blake is having a good comeback season and he has a season’s best of 20.29 s. It’ll be interesting to see if he manages to come to Rio in shape to compete for a medal. Don’t rule him out.

Ameer Webb (USA). The 25 year old has been steadily improving over the last three years and has now managed to book his ticket to Rio by placing 3rd at the US Olympic Trials. This will be his first global championship and we’ll see how he performs under that sort of pressure. 19.89 s makes him the third fastest in this year’s world rankings, but making the final should be his first priority. My gut feeling is that he won’t win a medal with so many top class guys breathing down his neck, but he’ll be one of the danger men for sure.

LaShawn Merritt (USA). The 30 year old 400m specialist is a bit of a surprise as he has run under 19.8 s three times this year, including his new personal best of 19.74 s which makes him the fastest man in the world this season. His PB prior to 2016 was 19.98 s from way back in 2007. He will still run the 400m in Rio, but his newly acquired speed now also makes him a clear medal contender in the 200m. I can’t wait to see how he performs because this will be his first time competing in the 200m at a major global championship. Watch out for his finishing strength. A bronze medal is the most likely scenario in my book, but he might have some fatigue from running the rounds of the 400m.

Justin Gatlin (USA). Quite simply the man that’s most likely to pressure Bolt in the 200m. He has won the US Olympic Trials ahead of Merritt with a time of 19.75 s and I can definitely see him come close to 19.60 s in Rio. I don’t know if he can improve on his last year’s PB of 19.57 s, but he will probably have to if he wants to take on Bolt. A silver medal is the most realistic expectation.

Usain Bolt (Jamaica). He hasn’t really ignited the track with scintillating performances this year, but we’ve grown accustomed to him always having an ace in hand for when it really counts. His season’s best is 19.89 s from just a week ago, but while the time was very good, he was shaking his head and seemed to have been slightly displeased. I don’t think we should read too far into his reactions though. I’m fully convinced that he’s in shape to challenge his Olympic record of 19.30 s that he set in 2008. He just needs to preserve his energy going through the rounds. Anything other than a gold medal will be a big surprise for me, especially if he wins the 100m final four days earlier. He’s my pick for gold.


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