Saturday 22 August 2015

IAAF 2015 World Championships - Bolt vs Gatlin

A bleary eyed me decide to stay up for the start of the 2015 Athletics World Championships last night as it aired on BBC2 throughout the night. Held in Beijing it's a shame it hasn't gained more momentum considering it's essentially no different from the Olympics in terms of talent and big names. Still, the time difference puts pay to that.

It was great to see Jessica Ennis-Hill get off to a good start in the Heptathlon - she currently leads. Katarina Johnson-Thompson too, is right up there in contention despite a monumentally shaky start in the high jumper, where at one point she was in danger of not registering a height at all. Mo Farah also impressed by retaining his 10,000m crown, despite recent headlines and almost getting tripped over half a dozen times during the race.

I hadn't really thought of placing a wager on any event, but was slightly surprise at the current odds of the Men's 100 meters. It was already largely seen as largely a two horse races before Usain Bolt and controversial figure Justin Gatlin breezed into the semis and I don't think the performances so far have changed that (though what an impressive 9.91secs run by young Trayvon Bromell currently at 40-1). Gatlin's time was 9.83, Bolt's 9.96

In terms of his own abilities though, it seems clear that Bolt is struggling. His start today was woeful and when it's all about 100ths of a second that counts for a lot. Getting out of the blocks fast has never been a strength of his, but even by those standards it was poor. His time wasn't unimpressive but the run just didn't look easy for him in comparison to a relaxed and super fast Gatlin. Let us not forget that Gatlin is undefeated since 2013 and is running the kind of times (9.74 this year - a PB)  that put him a clear 1/10 of a second ahead of anyone elses performance. He's been consistent too.

With all of this in mind, I was surprised to see the current men's 100m odds as Gatlin 9/10 , Bolt 13/10. It's nigh on an even money shot and at those odds I'd definitely go for Justin Gatlin. I'm just not convinced Bolt is 'keeping his powder dry' and think the current prices are largely down to his reputation rather than reality. We'll find out tomorrow morning though of course :)

Update: Everything pointed to Gatlin so well played to Bolt. It was something of a fairy-tale ending really. He performed at his very best, finally getting a good start and keeping his cool following an almost disastrous semi final earlier that day. As for Gatlin, his race just didn't go to plan and tightening towards near the end certainly didn't help his cause when only 1/100th of a second separated him and Bolt.

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