Bolt faces serious challenge

No matter that Michael Johnson, himself a four-time Olympic sprint gold medal-winner, this week said that he believed Bolt could be capable of running 9.40sec – nearly two-tenths faster than the current 9.58sec world record he set in 2009.

Legendary American sprinter Michael Johnson claimed Usain Bolt was capable of running 9.40sec at London 2012 but this has to be a prediction taken with a hefty pinch of salt. The reality is that Bolt knows the conditions in London in August will not be conducive to world record speed, especially given the Jamaican’s inconsistent recent form.

Bolt’s been known to break records in the rain – his 14.35sec 150m world best was set in a typical Manchester spring downpour. But that, too, was three years ago, in what proved to be the finest season of Bolt’s career.

Now, what was supposed to be the highlight of the London Games, is under a cloud of a different sort, with growing doubts about the fitness of the 25-year-old superstar.

Following two defeats in the space of three days to training partner and rival Yohan Blake at the Jamaican trials, Bolt has now pulled out of his final pre-Olympic race.

So 2.55 for Blake to beat Bolt? That looks a lot better than the 1.45 offered for the positions to be reversed.

Bolt not to win the 100m gold medal at Olympics odds of 2.20? On his latest form you’ve got to think so.

Michael Johnson, who since dominating the 200 and 400m on the track has become a highly respected commentator on the sport, has watched Bolt’s development in undisguised awe. The American, who runs a performance analysis business in Texas, has also been to Jamaica to study and observe Bolt and Blake when training with coach Mills.

“Yohan Blake showed he will take advantage when Bolt does not perform at his best,” Johnson warned this week. “Bolt now has a legitimate challenger and will need to be at his best in London to defend his Olympic title.”

There, a sub-9.40sec is offered at 25.00. Such a time represents Bolt being two metres faster than his 2009 world best. surprisingly, Johnson does not seem to rule out such a performance by Bolt.

Johnson said: “He could break the world record again, he could run 9.5sec… lower. Ultimately if he were to really be focused and committed on cleaning up his technique, he could probably run 9.4sec, but he would have to do some major training and adjustments in the way that he runs.”

Then, against Blake, Gay and Justin Gatlin, the best guess is that it may take something close to or better than the world record to win gold in London: you can get odds of 3.75 on Bolt clocking 9.51-9.60sec in the final.