Olympic Watch – six pointers to Tokyo…
The Olympic watch has begun. Stuart Weir provided the following deep thoughts on Tokyo Olympics. We will bring pieces on the Olympics to a crescendo on July 27, but between now, July 15 and July 23, we will be providing you with all of the backstories you need to appreciate the colossal challenges that the elite have overcome to be named to their national Olympic teams.
Olympic Watch – six pointers to Tokyo
A cool, windy evening in Gateshead is a million miles from the Tokyo Olympics – OK a few thousand – but it is hard, just two weeks before the Olympics begin not to view everything in Gateshead through an Olympic lens. Here are a few thoughts that struck me as I watched the action.
Trayvon Bromell 9.98
Bromell confirmed for me that he is the man to beat in the Olympic final. At the pre-event press conference, he dismissed suggestions that he was the man to fill Usain Bolt’s shoes but also took the time to acknowledge “the people God put around me as I recovered from a dark place [injury]. Without them I would not be here”.
The women’s 200 in Tokyo is an intriguing race. Dina Asher-Smith is the world champion. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce ran a 21.79 recently. Blessing Okagbare looks to be in the form of her life, Tau Lou gets faster every race. And then there is Shaunae Miller-Uibo, will she run 200, 400, or both. Elaine Thompson-Herah is the reigning Olympic champion and she was in Gateshead, winning in 22.43 – don’t worry about the time, it was cold and windy. Gateshead was about winning and she delivered. Her comments after the race seemed to be spot on and confirm that she will be a force in Tokyo. “The race helped me to build my confidence to get that win on the board. It may not be my fastest time but I’m still pleased with that. Tokyo will be my second Olympics. I’ve been there and I know what it feels like”.
Everybody knows that Grant Holloway just has to turn up and the gold medal in the 100m hurdles is his! We also know that, as the legendary British coach, Malcolm Arnold, used to say “hurdles can bite”. Ronald Levy won’t be the favorite in Tokyo but running 13.22 in a windy Gateshead put down a marker that he will be a challenger.
W Long Jump
Malaika Mihambo was second in the long jump and only made the top-three shootout on countback. Her sequence was 5.99, 6.38, 6.03, 6.62, 6.52, 6.65. Remember when she used to jump 7 meters every meet for fun? Eight meets and only one 7 meters jump this summer so far. I was not totally convinced by her assessment of Gateshead: “I was just tired as I had four competitions in two weeks. It was okay but like I said I was tired and not at my full strength and it was without aboard. I was struggling with my performance a bit and I didn’t run as fast. If you saw my performance in Stockholm then effectively the jump was 7.16m with the board situation so let’s see what happens in Tokyo”. As Prince Hamlet’s mother Gertrude said in Shakespeare’s Hamlet: “The lady doth protest too much, methinks“.
One German we don’t have to worry too much about is Johannes Vetter, winner of the javelin with 85.25
Femke Bol, 400m hurdle spoiler, photo by British Athletics / Getty Images
Femke Bol looked impressive again winning in 53.24. While the time wasn’t sensational, it was a windy evening and she was well over a second ahead of Shamier Little and Janieve Russell. I really look forward to seeing her take on Dalilah and Sydney in Tokyo.