Blink and you'll miss it. The Men’s 100-metre dash makes for compulsory viewing!
Usain Bolt (Jamaica)
Bolt is a genuine superstar in his own right and the undisputed favourite for this race. The 29-year-old has won the 100-metres at the past two Olympics, announcing he’s “the greatest athlete to live” after taking home the gold medal in London 2012, and claimed his third World Championship last year in Beijing with a time of 9.79 seconds. While the Jamaican holds the world record of 9.58 seconds, set in 2009 in Berlin, he comes into Rio with an injury concern. Bolt missed Jamaica’s field and track trials with a minor hamstring strain, however was given a medical exemption by officials to compete. Nicknamed ‘The Lightning Bolt’, the sprinter is typically a ‘slow’ starter given his 195-centimetre frame but hits a top speed of 43 kilometres an hour around the 70-metre mark. Bolt is competing in his last Olympics and will hope to complete an unprecedented triple-triple, aiming for gold in the Men’s 100-metres, Men’s 200-metres and Men’s 4x100-metres relay in three consecutive Olympics. Supremely motivated, it’s easy to see him claiming top spot on the podium yet again although $1.50 with Bet365 hardly represents value.
Justin Gatlin (USA)
The 34-year-old was the last man to claim an Olympic 100-metres gold medal before Bolt, winning in Athens 2004, and is the oldest sprinter in the event. While a 4-year doping ban enforced in 2006 for amphetamine use put a pause to his rivalry with the Jamaican, Gatlin’s time away from the sport has helped extend his longevity. Since his return in 2010, the American has closed the gap. After taking home bronze in London 2012, Gatlin lost by a mere ten milliseconds (0.01 seconds) to Bolt in the 2015 World Championships in Beijing. The sprinter also ominously clocked a career best time of 9.74 seconds just last year in Doha, having revamped his starting technique over the past two years. Gatlin will be expected to explode off the blocks, with emphasis on short sharp steps as opposed to the long strides Bolt is known for. Typically, the American has already begun the war of words, stating Bolt was given “a medical pass” to compete in Rio. Bolt replied, promising Gatlin will “feel my full wrath as always”. If you ask me, Gatlin is trending upwards and will finish on the podium at the very least, so take the $3.25 odds with UNIBET each-way.
Trayvon Bromwell (USA)
Bromwell is a rising track and field star and ran equal third, 0.13 seconds behind Bolt, at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing. Rio 2016 will be the 21-year-old’s first Olympics campaign and he shrugged off an Achilles tendon sprain to clock a personal equal best time of 9.84 seconds at the US trials earlier this year in July, coming second behind Gatlin. The American has an excellent record over 60 metres, winning the 2016 IAAF World Indoor Championships in Portland with another personal best of 6.47 seconds, hence must begin strongly to take full advantage of this ability. His small stature, measuring 175 centimetres tall, puts him at a disadvantage in the latter stages of the 100 metres, although recent gains suggest he hasn’t yet reached his peak. At $16 with UNIBET, Bromwell is my pick for a medal, just don’t expect him to be wearing gold.
Yohan Blake (Jamaica)
Blake has forever lived in Bolt’s shadow, beating him only once in official competition at the Jamaican Olympic trials in 2012. The 26-year-old’s personal best of 9.69 recorded in 2012 is the equal second fastest time of all time, however Blake has had a torrid few years. The Jamaican has taken time to mend since severely injuring his right hamstring in 2013 and again in 2014, requiring surgery to reattach the muscle, subsequently failing to make the team for the 2015 World Championships in Beijing. However, nicknamed ‘The Beast’, Blake should not be written off lightly and he bounced back to win the Jamaican Olympic trials last month, recording a time of 9.95 seconds in Bolt’s absence. While he will surely need to improve by several hundred milliseconds to seriously challenge his friend and training partner, Bolt, it could well be Blake is tapering to perfection. However, at $21 with UNIBET, the Jamaican only has an outsider’s chance and it appears Rio is one Olympics too soon.