Los Angeles, July 11, 2022 (AFP) – Five years after the retirement of Jamaican Usain Bolt, athletics dreams of finding a new king of the sprint events at the World Championships which begin next Friday in Eugene (United States). United), with candidates like the Italian Lamont Marcell Jacobs, Olympic champion, and the American Erriyon Knighton, a promise of 18 years.
Four athletes have shared the men’s 100 and 200 meter titles since Bolt bid farewell to the tracks with the eight Olympic gold medals he won between the 2008 Beijing Games and Rio 2016.
At the last World Cup, in Doha 2019, the winners were the Americans Christian Coleman (100m) and Noah Lyles (200m), and at the Tokyo Games last year it was the turn of Jacobs (100m ) and Canadian André de Grasse (200m) to keep the gold.
All are ready for the Battle of Eugene (July 15-24), alongside other athletes who want to shine in home competition, like Fred Kerley and Trayvon Bromell, the year’s fastest men in the 100m ( 9.76 and 9.81), in addition to Knighton, holder of the best mark of 2022 in the 200m (19.49).
Among all the favorites, it is precisely Jacobs who arrives for the event in doubt due to physical problems which prevented him from competing this year.
The sprinter, son of an Italian mother and an American father, was world indoor 60m champion in Belgrade in mid-March, but could not compete in any international 100m event.
At the end of June, he withdrew from competition at the Stockholm leg of the Diamond League before the event due to pain in his buttocks, in addition to another thigh injury he suffered in recent weeks. .
Jacobs, 27, found himself without the desired preparation just two weeks before facing opponents like silver medalist Fred Kerley in Tokyo, who in the semi-finals of the American championship reached an impressive score of 9.76 .
Kerley, also 27, qualified for the 100m and 200m events at Eugene’s Hayward Field.
– The Erriyon Knighton phenom – Although Jacobs and Kerley are getting a lot of attention, the sprinter who will defend the 100m title is the controversial Christian Coleman.
The athlete from Atlanta (Georgia) does not seem to be in top form either with only two months of competition in the 100m, after having served the suspension which excluded him from the Tokyo Games.
Coleman, 26, was suspended for 18 months for violating the doping code for failing to show up for three tests.
At the United States Championships in June, Coleman set the fastest time in the semifinals (9.87) and, with Eugene’s qualification guaranteed by being the defending champion, he decided not to play the final.
In the 200m, it will be American Noah Lyles, 24, who will put his world title on the line against fierce opponents like De Grasse.
The Canadian bounced back from losing to Lyles at Doha 2019, where he clinched silver, by winning gold at the Tokyo Games, where the American was third.
But Lyles and De Grasse’s hegemony in this competition could be threatened with the rise of Erriyon Knighton, the latest athlete to be dubbed the ‘new Bolt’.
Labels aside, Knighton has caused a stir in the sprint for the past two years with a string of results comparable to the Jamaican legend when he was his age.
On April 30, the Tampa, Florida-born gem broke Bolt’s under-20 world record by more than four tenths, setting a time of 19.49.
Knighton, who months earlier had finished fourth in Tokyo, became the fourth-fastest sprinter in history with that mark, being passed only by Bolt, fellow Jamaican Yohan Blake and American Michael Johnson.
After being beaten by Lyles for the hundredths in the American championship, the young prodigy wants to reach Eugene in the great triumph that will transform him from promise into reality.
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