Hyderabad: When it comes to the Olympics, there is no bigger event than the 100m sprint. It is the blue ribbon event of the quadrennial show piece followed with immense interest.
Usain Bolt is an undisputed champion having won the gold three times in a row. He is the only athlete to defend the title twice having won it in 2008, 2012 and 2016.
Only four athletes – Wyomia Tyus, Carl Lewis, Gail Devers and Shelly-Ann Fraster-Price – won back-to-back titles.
While the US dominated the 100m sprint event with 16 gold in a total of 39 medals, Jamaica has 8 gold, with Bolt’s hat-trick of gold. But with Bolt retiring, the world is eagerly waiting for the next fastest man.
Trayvon Bromell (USA)
With favourite Justin Gatlin failing to qualify for the Tokyo Games, the US hopes of bringing the 100m gold back home after a 16-year-old gap rests on the 26-year-old US athlete Trayvon Bromell. He is the favourite to succeed Bolt as he holds the best timing of the season at 9.77 seconds. Bolt himself picked Bromell as his successor in the upcoming Games because of his red-hot form.
He announced his arrival when he became the first junior athlete to break the 10-second barrier in 100m event with a timing of 9.97, which is still the world record in juniors. Though he finished a disappointing eighth in the Rio Olympics, he has improved a lot in the last few years. He is the current fastest man in the US.
Ronnie Baker (USA)
Twenty-seven-year-old Ronnie Baker is in the prime of his form. He has recorded his personal best timing of 9.85 seconds in the US Trials to make it to the Olympics. He then won the 100m gold in Diamond League in Stockholm in the first week of this month. Five days later, Baker cruised to victory in Monaco with a timing of 9.91 seconds. These results put him as one of the strong medal contenders in a field filled with tough competitors.
Fred Kerley (US)
Fred Kerley is the surprise pick in the US track and field event for this year’s Games. With Kerley being primarily a 400m runner, he turned his focus to 100m and 200m events this year. He made a good progress in the 100m event from increasing his personal best timing from 10.40s to 9.86 seconds. This is the season’s second best timing in the world making him a contender for a podium finish.
The 26-year-old made a strong statement for his case in the 100m event when he won the 100m event in May ahead of the Olympic and world champion Justin Gatlin. Kerly raced to 9.96 seconds in the event while Gatlin clocked 10.08s. He finished third in the US Track and Field trials behind Trayvon Bromell and Ronnie Baker, and made it to the Olympics.
Akani Simbine (South Africa)
The South African sprinter is full of grit and determination. Having finished 5th in the 2016 Olympics in Rio, the 27-year-old is determined to end his medal drought on the world’s biggest stage. He is the current African record holder with a timing of 9.84 seconds he set in this month at the Istvan Gyulai Memorial Meet in Hungary. He also led the South African team to 4x100m relay gold in 2021 World Relays. Simbine was a 100 metres champion at the 2018 African Championships and the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Andre De Grasse (Canada)
With a personal best timing of 9.90s, the Canadian superstar is one of the few athletes to run the 100m event below 10 seconds. He enters the field as one of the top contenders. The 26-year-old has won a silver in 200 metres and a bronze in 100m and 4x100m relay in the Rio Olympics behind Usain Bolt and US’ Justin Gatlin.
The diminutive athlete is currently ranked No.6. However, he hasn’t competed in any competition this year. De Grasse pushing Usain Bolt to the limits during the 200m semifinal event in Rio Olympics and both were exchanging a smile at the finish line still remains one of the iconic moments in Olympic history.
Jamaican sprint king Yohan Blake was considered the toughest rival to his compatriot Usain Bolt. Justifying the hype, Blake became the second fastest man, along with Tyson Gay, in 100m event. He has the best timing of 9.69 seconds he set in 2012. When he won the gold in 2011 in the World Championships, he was the youngest to do so.
Making his debut in the Olympics in 2012, Blake took silver behind Bolt in the 100m event with a timing of 9.75s. He also won the 200m silver behind Bolt at the same Games. He was also part of the Jamaican 4x100m relay team that won the gold with record timing. However, he had a disappointing outing in the Rio Games. He finished fourth in the 100m events with a timing of 9.93seconds and failed to achieve a podium in 200m event as well. He is also going to face a tough challenge as his seasons’ best stands at 9.95s which is not enough for a medal.
Bolt: Undisputed champion
Usain Bolt remains the undisputed champion in the 100m event having won thrice in a row. The world record holder in 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay, Bolt has eight gold medals to his name. He also remains the only sprinter to win 100m and 20m titles in three consecutive Olympics. He also holds the world record-timing of 9.58seconds he set in Berlin in 2009. The legend retired in 2017 but not before making athletics one of the most-watched sports.