Usain Bolt is back; or he will be; or so we hope, anyway. The six-time Olympic champion is set to make his European 100m debut this Friday, at the Sainsbury-sponsored London Diamond League meet. The meet’s venue is a place he holds fond memories – London’s Olympic Stadium.
Despite the positive reports coming out of Bolt’s training camp – located some 24 miles away at Brunel University – his recent withdrawals from meets in Paris and Lausanne have left some degree of reservations or even muted optimism.
However, this weekend’s assignment, gives the world 100m and 200m record holder an opportunity to test his level of preparation ahead of next month’s IAAF World Championships in Beijing, China, after a few injury setbacks derailed his preparation.
The preliminary entry list for Friday’s 100m heats, suggests that Bolt – who has only contested one 100m race to date – will face a strong test in the England capital with countrymen Nesta Carter and Kemar Bailey-Cole. Also registered to compete are, Frenchman Jimmy Vicaut – who recently posted a European record of 9.86 – American Mike Rodgers and veteran Kim Collins all registered to compete.
The last time Bolt ran inside the Olympic Stadium, he clocked 9.85 to win the 100m at this very meet in 2013. Anything close to that time come Friday, will solidify Bolt as a strong contender for gold at the World Championships, which is a full month from now.
Last Friday, American Justin Gatlin posted his fourth 100m time below 9.80 seconds in five races this season – 9.78 seconds – and declared he was ready to go faster.
Bolt isn’t the only Jamaican facing a test this weekend.
Elaine Thompson, the national champion, has ran three 100m races since winning the 200m title at the National Senior Championships and will be making her first appearance in the half lap event in Europe this year.
It will also be her second time running the 200m in Europe in her career.
In London, she will face three of the fastest women in the event this year – world number two Candyce McGrone (USA), who won her last contest in 22.08; Dutch sprinter Dafne Schippers (22.09); and American Torie Bowie (22.23).
The young Jamaican will not be short on confidence having not lost a 200m race all season and having only lost two of her eight 100m starts in 2015.
Still, this is her first time facing such a strong, in-form field in the 200m and it’s left to be seen how she handles what will be her biggest test to date.