The 2020 Summer Olympics finally starts officially this Friday in Tokyo, Japan. But even though sports fans will be looking forward to watching the events it is still hard to fathom that no spectators will be at the venues.
Now, this is no surprise given the COVID-19 crisis has affected Japan greatly despite continued promises from officials that spectators would be allowed. I just thought such a promise was a delaying tactic to ensure the Games went ahead. All the recent opinion polls in Tokyo found its residents were strongly against their country hosting the Olympics.
Despite the billions invested by Japan into hosting the games some contingency/standby measures should have been in place so as to allow other nations to host certain sports especially where spectators could attend.
E.g. The athletics could have gone to Eugene, Oregon (host of next year’s World Athletics Championship) in a straight swop with Tokyo.
We all saw that empty stadia vibe in Jamaica when the great sprinter Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce ran an incredible 10.63 for the 100m. Such a momentous achievement deserved even a few hundred spectators in the stands.
Speaking of Fraser-Pryce, the event I am most looking forward to at the Olympics is the women’s 200m.
Unlike the male sprint events the women’s 100m and 200 are stacked with quality. The 100m is probably down to who can catch Fraser-Pryce. But the 200m is just another level. There is no clear-cut favourite for the 200m. It is difficult to predict who the 3 medalists will be on the 3rd August.
The big guns for the 200m include:
- Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (Jamaica) – multiple gold medal winner who ran a personal best of 21.79 when winning June’s national trials.
- Elaine Herah (Jamaica) – defending Olympic champion at both 100m & 200m with a best time of 21.66.
- Shaunae Miller-Uibo (Bahamas) – unbeaten in the 200m for 3 years until last month and has a best time of 21.74.
- Gabby Thomas (US) – won the 200m at the recent national trials in 21.61, the third fastest time ever recorded.
- Dina Asher-Smith (UK) – 2019 world champion at 200m in a personal best time of 21.88.
- Jenna Prandini (US) – came 2nd behind Thomas at the trials in a pb time of 21.89.
- Anavia Battle (US) – came 3rd behind Thomas and Prandini in a pb time of 21.93.
- Shericka Jackson (Jamaica) – ran a personal best 21.82 for the 200m at the national trials behind Fraser-Pryce. Recently ended Miller-Uibo’s unbeaten run in the 200m.
- Dafne Schippers (Netherlands) – 2015 world champion in a time of 21.63.
It is rare for the women 200m at any championship event to have so many contenders that have dipped below the benchmark of 22 secs which separates world class runners from the good runners.
Schippers is the only one of the above-mentioned athletes whose form has dipped. All the others seem to be improving. Herah is said by her coach to be in the best form of her life. The same can be said of all the main contenders. Fraser-Pryce at 34 is better than ever. Thomas has come from nowhere and Asher-Smith’s form looks awesome.
Then we can also add to the mix, Marie- Josée Ta Lou (Côte d’Ivoire) who has performed consistently well with a pb of 22.08.
Why are so many fast times in the 200m?
There is an ongoing debate on the advances being made in spikes technology. But I will leave such discussions to the experts to thrash out over the coming weeks.
Let’s hope all these athletes turn up and are not hampered by COVID-19 issues or niggles. But one or two could be physically and/or mentally drained after running the 100m earlier.
This should be a race to get the goose bumps going. The 3 semi-finals alone will be gripping to watch. As none of the top runners can take the semis lightly for fear of not finishing in the first 2 and dread getting drawn in coffin-box lanes of 1 or 2 in the finals.
The running track is likely to be super-fast so let us hope the conditions are perfect for sprinting and maybe a few of these runners will push each other to get close to Flo-Jo’s world record of 21.34.
Whatever happens in Tokyo promoters for the Diamond League circuit must ensure that most of these runners are lined for future 200m this season. Especially as the livewire that is Sha’Carri Richardson will be back from her brief suspension.
200m heats – 2 August (morning)
200m semis – 2 August (evening)
200m finals – 3 August (evening)
|5||CIV||TA LOU Marie-Josee||22.27|
In the end the race delivered up to a point. Elaine Thompson-Herah was imperious. Shericka Jackson blundered in the heats. Dina Asher Smith withdrew and Shaunae just made up the numbers in the final in order to concentrate on the 400m final which she won. The shock of the race was Christine Mboma running personal best in her three races and kept running pass Gabby Thomas (heats, semis & finals) in the final 60 metres as if the latter was in Nike high heels. The debate will heat up about Mboma’s testosterone levels ahead of next year’s world championship. Will Diamond League promoters invite Mboma to the remaining meets in 2021?