Deji Ogeyingbo is completely right! The Men’s 100 meters, in 2023, is completely open, and that should make for a spectacular year of sprinting!
As the outdoor season gets into full swing, the battle for the fastest man in the world this year gets tougher.
The battle of the fastest man on the planet. It’s the most coveted crown in the whole of Track and Field. Who comes out of a major championship with the gold medal and probably the fastest time amongst his opponents? And very often-as it should, the price to pay for such a mantle is extreme work and discipline in order for an athlete to build oneself for those 10 seconds race.
For most of the race, the gong has always been worn by a Jamaican or an American, with a few exceptions in between. Usain Bolt wore it longer and more times than any Sprinter in history, and as we have come to see amongst faithful and non-faithful of the sports, the Jamaican is always referred to as the fastest man in history.
Six years into Bolt’s retirement, not one sprinter has struggled to hold down the title. There have been three major championships in that time frame, including the Olympics, and we’ve had three different winners. Christian Coleman at the 2019 World Championships in Doha, Marcel Jacobs at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, and Fred Kerley at the 2022 World Championships in Oregon.
No single one of them has been consistent enough to dominate beyond that time frame of their success. There is an argument that it’s no fault of theirs, but Bolt wasn’t flawless himself; he had to overcome his own travails too. We’ve seen an increase in the number of sprinters who are challenging for top honors in the last twelve months, making it difficult to access the leading candidate ahead of the world championships in Budapest this summer.
First off, you can look past the defending champion, Kerley. Amongst the frontrunners, he is the least candidate fans would have envisaged leading the pack, but after his win in Oregon last year, the American had thrown the cats amongst the pigeons. 9.76 was his Season and Personal Best from 2021 as he was closely followed by his American compatriots Treyvon Bromell (9.81) and Marvin Bracy (9.85), with Kenya’s Ferdinand Omanyala sandwiched between them with 9.85 also.
Kerley skipped the indoor season to race in some continental tour meets in Australia, and as we anticipated, he only competed in the 200m and 400m races he won convincingly. It really doesn’t tell us much as to what sort of shape Kerley is, and it’s maybe good to keep the fans salivating, but somewhere in his mind while racing down under in Australia, he would have kept more than an eye on his opponent’s performances indoors.
2021 didn’t see sprinters run many fast times, with only 30 runners clocking sub-10s, with five of the running 9.99s. Kerley was the only athlete to run inside 9.8s. He did it twice. This invariably meant that there was a growing list of sprinters willing to challenge the top prize as there wasn’t an exact stranglehold at the top.
This brings us to 2022 when the competition gets tougher. Many sprinters have either thrown their hat in the ring with their performance in the indoor season, or the burgeoning ones from last year have gotten better. The roll call is growing by the day, and there is a plausibility that we might get a new champion this year.
World 200m Champion Noah Lyles’ indoor season was a success over the 60m, one that saw him improve on his Personal Best in the event to 6.51s. Crucially, it seems he’s made a massive revamp on his poor start, one that usually hampers him at the start of the shorter sprint.
Alongside Lyles is Bromell, who has had a brilliant start to his 2023 season as he sets his sight on upgrading his Bronze from last year to match his Personal Best of 9.76s. The American looks reborn after shaking off what was a career-threatening injury. Marvin Bracy, the Silver medalist from Oregon hasn’t gotten into full stride yet, but he’s certainly not a pushover.
Also, the 2019 World Champion, Christian Coleman, looks to be getting past first gear after he returned from a doping ban last year. The 60m world indoor record holder ran a season’s best of 9.87s last. So far, he’s gotten in the 6.4s zone indoors, indicating that his body is getting back into great shape in the summer. Michael Norman, the World 400m champion, has thrown his hat into the ring, too.
Outside the US, many sprinters are looking to wrestle this title out of their hands. Top of the list is Olympic champion Jacobs. After the Italian beat Coleman to the world indoor title in Belgrade last year, he suffered a dip in form largely because of injury. His return this year hasn’t been spectacular, as he came out crocked. No doubt, the quality is still there, and if he gets back to full fitness, there will be no stopping him.
Africa and Commonwealth Games Champion Ferdinand Omanyala has started the season like a house on fire. World Athletics did not ratify a series of 9.8s runs in Nairobi, but it doesn’t change the fact that when he is in the mood, he can eat with the big boys. The man he dethroned to win his crown, Akani Simbine, looks wounded. Revenge is in the works for him, having made the final of major competitions since 2016.
The younger generation of sprinters seems to be catching up fast. Jamaica’s latest sensation Oblique Seville reached the final of last year’s world championships, and he’s getting better by the day. The 22-year-old is trained by the famous Glen Mills, the same man that turned Bolt into a superstar. There is also the world junior champion from Botswana, Letsile Tebogo, who seems to be conjuring his inner Bolt and might just spring up a surprise.
Regardless of whatever happens this year, we are in for a thrill in the men’s 100m.