- ATHLETICS. Bolt gets his running shoes for finale in London with Ugandans Cheptegei, Mutai carrying nation’s hopes at Jamaican superstar’s farewell.
To many, Usain Bolt is undoubtedly the greatest sprinter ever. The current generation easily places him above American greats Jesse Owens, Carl Lewis and Michael Johnson.
IAAF president Lord Sebastian Coe believes Bolt is the ‘Muhammed Ali of athletics’ and many will for long, share that sentiment.
Having scooped 11 global titles, eight straight Olympic gold medals and broken all records over the 100m, 200m and 4 X 100m relay, Bolt’s illustrious career comes to an end at the London World Championships next weekend. From charming the crowds with trademark celebrations after lightning performances, Coe is right to say the post-Bolt era will leave athletics struggling more ‘to remain relevant’ rather than doping.
Tipped to nick a fourth World title in the 100m tomorrow, the 30-year-old will wrap up his glittering career in front of a sell-out crowd at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford with the 200m final and 4 X 100m Relay final on Thursday and Saturday nights respectively.
Uganda hits Worlds’ record
Across the globe, these London Worlds have been dubbed as ‘Bolt’s farewell’. But Uganda has sent 20 athletes to join that party - the nation’s biggest contingent ever to the Worlds. It would have been bigger had marathoner Adero Nyakisi and 10,000m runner Juliet Chekwel not pulled out with injury.
Of that lot, 15 will be having debuts at the global stage and only three Ronald Musagala, Jacob Araptany and Timothy Toroitich have run at three editions.
Cheptegei needs a final kick
The 21-year-old, who announced his arrival with 10,000m gold at the 2014 World Juniors, came fourth out of a star-studded field at the Eugene Diamond League (DL) in USA three months back.
Last month, Joshua Cheptegei came fourth over the 3000m race at the Paris DL before taking third in the 5,000m at the Lausanne DL, in a new personal best (PB) of 12:59.83 - the third fastest time this year. Only Ethiopians Edris Muktar and Selemon Barega have run faster.
That dip into a sub-13 is a huge confidence boost for Cheptegei. However, championship races are tricky. Cheptegei must put up a phenomenal final 400m if he is to outmuscle the stars in Muktar, Yomif Kejelcha, American Paul Chelimo and Bahrani Albert Rop for a medal in next Saturday’s final.
The silent weapon in Mutai
Solomon Mutai is Uganda’s best marathoner at the past two championships in Beijing 2015 and Rio 2016. With Kiprotich out, Mutai is the only decorated marathoner at a championship of the trio that includes Dusseldorf Marathon champion Robert Chemonges and Castellon Marathon runner-up Alex Chesakit. A surprise bronze medalist in Beijing two years ago, Mutai will need great support from Chesakit and Chemonges in the fierce field on the London streets tomorrow.
TODAY IN LONDON - SS8, Maximo & Select 3
800M (MEN’S HEATS): Abu Mayanja 2.45pm
1,500M (WOMEN’S SEMIS): 9.35pm
100M (MEN’S FINAL): 11.45pm