Sprint king Usain Bolt falling back to the pack
Anyone thinking Usain Bolt will simply waltz into London and repeat his world record performances of four years ago is in for a big surprise, according to former Olympic champion Maurice Greene.
A false start in Daegu last year robbed the Jamaican speedster of the chance to defend his World Championship crown, but he still remains the overwhelming favourite to complete the 100 and 200 metres double for a second time at the Olympics next month - and smash more records while in the process.
However, a combination of increased competition and a dip in form from Bolt has Greene doubting if the 25-year-old can dominate the same way did in Beijing back in 2008.
“I am going to tell you right now he can’t do that,” the former 100m world record holder said, who won gold at the 2000 Games in Sydney. “This race in London is going to be a lot closer than a lot of people think.
“It’s going to be a very exciting race.” In London, Bolt is expected to face fierce challenges from American duo Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay and compatriot Yohan Blake, the man who capitalised on his team-mate’s misfortune in South Korea last year.
‘Lightning’ Bolt set world records in the 100m and 200m and 4x100m relay during a thrilling show in Beijing then bettered both individual marks at the Berlin world championships the following year.
But Greene claims he’s seen signs that the three-time gold medallist is struggling to reach those heights just weeks out from the summer showpiece.
“He hasn’t shown to be in that type of shape that he was in 2008,” the American added. “He is having a lot of problems at the beginning part of his race that he still hasn’t figured out.”
Greene believes the problems occur between the start and 65 metres. For the last 35 metres, Bolt’s speed is top notch. “You have to put together a race to withstand that cushion,” he said.
“If you can do that, he can be beat. There is nobody out there who can run with him if he is [at his best]. But I don’t think he is in that type of shape.”
Greene, though, sounded a note of caution that the lanky sprinter, who returns to the track this weekend at the Jamaican Olympic trials, could be out to prove a point following his world championships no-show.
And if he does get back to his best then the rest of the field needn’t even bother turning up.
“Usain is talking about his legacy,” Greene said. “He wants to prove that last year he should have won. And when a person feels like they have something to prove they’re dangerous.”