Is Usain Bolt’s Speed Enough To Avoid Injury And Defeat Justin Gatlin At The Rio Olympics 2016?

Colin Fredericson

This year, Usain Bolt’s speed will again be tested, this time in his final Olympics. America’s Justin Gatlin is still chasing after him both on the track and in the media, as the hunger to win grows in the hearts of both competitors. Gatlin doesn’t want the Rio Olympics 2016 to end with him once again coming in second place — he wants to finally prove the dominance of the USA over track and field rival Jamaica, and this is the last chance to prove that on the world stage in the Usain Bolt era.

Bolt arrived in Rio confident, knowing clearly what he wants to do. He wants to conquer himself, and prove that the world hasn’t yet seen the limit of Usain Bolt’s speed. He knows that people will watch the 100m because he is in it. He also knows the stakes are extremely high, as other track and field events, whether record-breaking or not, largely go ignored outside of the track and field world. The Olympics takes the normally obscure sport and puts it in the spotlight, giving athletes the enormous pressure of upholding their country’s legacy.

Usain Bolt told the Guardian how he views the importance of the competition at the Rio Olympics 2016.

“World records are great, but they can be broken. World championship medals are also fantastic, but only in the world of track and field. Outside the world of athletics the worlds don’t really have a big following. But the Olympics – the whole world knows what that is. It is the greatest spectacle on earth. When the 100m Olympics final is on, everyone says ‘Usain Bolt is running. Turn over and let’s watch.'”

Bolt sustained a hamstring strain before the races that would have placed him on the Jamaican Olympic team, but of course he got a pass. Jamaica wouldn’t leave their sports hero off the roster. Justin Gatlin still wanted to weigh in on the matter, showing his thirst to conquer his No. 1 opponent both on the track and in the media. Gatlin told the media in an indirect way that he felt Usain was getting preferential treatment that he would not receive were he on Team USA. Then again, if Usain really did have to forgo the Olympics due to the hamstring issue, less people might tune in, and Gatlin would be the top dog.

According to the Jamaica Observer, Bolt wasn’t amused by Justin Gatlin’s comments.

“I’ve proven myself year on year that I’m the greatest. I laughed when I heard it, I was disappointed, especially in Justin Gatlin.”

Usain Bolt’s speed on the track is expected to propel him to another easy win in Rio, where he hopes to maintain his dominance over the three events he achieved first place in at the last two Olympics. He wants to keep his titles in the 100m, 200m, and the 4x100m, which he achieved with his teammates, some of the fastest men in the world. Gatlin, now 34-years-old, hopes to upset Bolt’s attempt to retire in top form. Bolt is 29-years-old and just about at his peak.

Bolt further told the Guardian the advice he got about dealing with the feisty American sprinter.

“My coach told me to relax, that I was the legend, I was the champion and it was Gatlin’s job to worry about me. All I had to do was what I normally do and I would win. That helped chill me out a lot. I let go of the stress after that.”

But Bolt will also have to outrun other speedsters on the track besides Gatlin. Sprinters looking to catch Usain include fellow Jamaican Yohan Blake, and Gatlin’s teammate, fellow American LaShawn Merritt, who looks to further impress after a strong performance at the Olympic trials in Eugene, Oregon.

Even when hampered by hamstring strain or other small injury, Usain Bolt’s speed and natural talent somehow still bring victory.

[Photo by Matt Dunham/AP Images]