STEVE MULLINGS’ EARLY SEASON FORM MAKES FOR INTRIGUING NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
25 May 2011
Jamaican sprinter Steve Mullings with times of 9.90 (2.0m/s) and 9.89 (2.0m/s) remains the world leader in the 100 metres this year, but even more significantly, he became the fifth Jamaican since the start of last season to go faster than 9.90 seconds over the short sprint. This presents an interesting situation in this country as the national championships to select Jamaica’s team to the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea comes up in just over a month’s time.
Over the past few years Jamaica has displayed good depth in the men’s short sprint but since last year that depth has developed to almost unprecedented levels. Last year, Jamaica created history when it produced four men who ran better than 9.90s in one season. Nesta Carter 9.78, Bolt 9.82, Powell 9.82, and Yohan Blake 9.89. Mullings now adds himself to that list and also to the list of active Jamaicans who have gone under 10 seconds. In addition to the above-mentioned athletes, Michael Frater (9.97), Mario Fosythe (9.95), and Lerone Clarke, the Commonwealth champion (9.99), have gone under 10 seconds in the last two years. Then there are those who are on the cusp of breaking that 10-second barrier – Dexter Lee who clocked a personal best 10.06s in Brazil on May 22, Jacques Harvey 10.09s at the Jamaica Invitational in early May, as well as Kimari Roach and Oshane Bailey both 10.1 athletes.
All this talent on display would suggest that the finals of the 100 metres for men at the championships at the end of June could be as deep as any Olympic of World Championships. All this for five places on the relay squad and three for individual spots on the team to Daegu. Bolt, as defending champion gets an automatic bye to the championships so he does not need to participate in the national championships.
This abundance of talent also makes for interesting debate about who will constitute Jamaica’s relay squad to the world championships. The one thing that can be said with some level of authority is that whoever makes up the squad and the final team, the world record of 37.10s that Jamaica set in Beijing in 2008 will be in jeopardy. If all the key members of this team, that being Bolt and Powell, are healthy with Blake being faster than ever, Carter looking to do the same thing, Mullings already running personal bests and Frater on his way to personal bests, the 37-second barrier is also under great threat.
The million-dollar question will be who will make the final cut and what legs will they run. Asafa Powell, who has anchored Jamaica’s all-powerful team over the past few years recently gave the world a taste of what could happen when he ran the lead leg at the Penn Relays at Franklin field and what a leg it was. Should Powell decide to stick with the lead leg it would give Jamaica a significant advantage, one that would almost be impossible to overcome once the stick gets around to the anchor leg.
Some pundits would argue that Powell to Bolt to Mullings to Blake would be unbeatable as by the time the second leg is completed everyone else would be running for the silver medal. There are those though who argue that Carter to Blake to Bolt to Powell would still be the best line up as it is more familiar to all the parties involved and makes for a safer experience.
All that means nothing just now because all the potential candidates first need to make the team and based on what we are seeing so far as the national championships loom closer no one except for Bolt is secured a spot. That’s the most intriguing part of it all.