Can the Jamaican male 4x100m team further reduce the WR without Asafa?
Written by Robert Taylor
Friday, 21 September 2012
The Jamaican 4x100m team can go even faster without Asafa Powell. This can happen by putting Yohan Blake on the Anchor. I come to this conclusion by looking at the efficiency of Usain Bolt relative to Blake on the third leg. In my humble opinion, the difference Bolt has over Blake is greater on the curve than on the straight. When Blake is running the curve, he leans forward too much and this negatively affects his curve running performance.
While Bolt on the other hand is one of the best curve runners we have seen coming out of Jamaica since the days of Donald Quarrie. Tyson Gay at his peak probably is the only athlete in this era that can rival Bolt on the curve. Bolt's problem anchoring, if we can call it a problem, is that he delays picking up his speed because of the switching of the baton from his left hand to his right. Most want to see Bolt anchor because he is the star of the show and since the team is winning, everything is ok. I understand that, but to maximize (or optimize rather) the team's performance level, Blake should be the one running the anchor.
I find it strange that many I know are quick to point out the benefit of Veronica Campbell-Brown running the curve for the female side but do not have the same conviction about Bolt running the curve. The 9.69 that Blake ran in the 100m in Lausanne, Switzerland shows that he is much closer to Bolt than many want to believe. For Blake to put his conviction of beating Bolt over the 200m into reality he has to improve his curve running. Until that day arrives, the Jamaican 4x100m will be superior if Bolt runs the curve and Blake anchors, rather than the other way around. Some are asking why fix something when it is not broken. My response is, time is short so maximize your potential as soon as it is available because the chance may not come again.
The Jamaican female 4x100m is a prime example. They had the foot speed in both 2008 and 2009 to break the world record but it did not happen. They failed because of either wrong placement of athletes or lack of adequate baton practice or poor management or politics or any combination. It just did not happen. Fortunately, the ego problem, politics, or poor management was or is not a problem for the male 4x100m team.
For most, it is far more entertaining to see Bolt doing the anchor leg than Blake. For the Jamaican team, I think it is to their benefit to arrange the team where they can optimize their time and thus lower the world record. Therefore, with a fit Asafa or without Asafa, the team performance is optimized when Bolt runs the third leg. At the end of their career, I think all athletes would like to retire with a record that lasts a while.
As we should know by now, no record will last forever. The thing for athletes is to make sure they increase the difficulty for those who come after them.