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Athletics in Rio 2016: The Olympic Farewell of Usain Bolt

Athletics in Rio 2016: The Olympic Farewell of Usain Bolt

Posted by Miguel Ernesto on February 17, 2016

Athletics is one of the sports disciplines in which Latin American and Caribbean athletes could achieve the highest results in Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games. The eyes of the whole world are going to be focused on the phenomenon Usain Bolt, who looks forward to taking his legend to the next level; but at least another six representatives from the region have real possibilities to climb to the highest step of the podium.

Many people had been saying for a while that Rio Olympic Games would be Bolt’s farewell to active sports, the best runner of all times; however, the Jamaican athlete stated that his sponsors convinced him to run in 2017, so the emotional meaning of his participation in the South American city is lower, although expectations are always high when it comes to seeing this charismatic athlete run.

Bolt’s goal in Rio has never been achieved by any human being: winning the races of 100 and 200 meter dash and 4 x 100 meter relay in three Olympic Games in a row. Will he be able to do it? His physical condition is logically not as good as it was eight years ago, when he stood out in Beijing, but he shines as the finest sprinter. The Jamaican athlete’s first Olympic performance was Beijing 2008. He amazed everybody at the Chinese capital, by setting three world records. He clocked 9.69 seconds in 100 meter dash; afterwards, in 200, he pulverized Michael Johnson’s record by crossing the line in 19.30 seconds and, finally, he was a member of the relay team made up of Nesta Carter, Michael Frater and Asafa Powell, which won the title in 37.10 seconds.

In his second Olympic Games, in London, many people were not only expecting him to be victorious, but to set new records. Once again, Bolt left the other runners behind in the three races, but the record was only set in the 4 x 100 relay race. In 100 meter dash, the Jamaican lightning ran the distance in 9.63 seconds, the second best time in the history; he clocked 19.32 seconds in 200 meter dash, and joined Nesta Carter, Michael Frater and Yohan Blake to set the fantastic record of 36.84 seconds.

Is Bolt going to hold nine Olympic titles? Before the World Championship of Beijing, in 2015, there were people foreseeing the decline of the Jamaican sprinter, but the outstanding athlete replied with three victories, thus becoming the most prize-winning runner in the history of athletics world championships. This time round, in Rio, we shouldn’t be surprised if Bolt—counting on the support of his relay teammates— climbs to the top of the podium three times.

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (Jamaica)

The small Jamaican runner is the main hope of the region in terms of speed and she’s looking forward to writing her name in record books as the only woman that has won 100 meters dash in three consecutive Olympic Games. 

In Beijing 2008, she clocked 10.78 seconds and left her compatriot Sherone Simpson behind. Four years later, she worked harder to prevail over US Carmelita Jeter, who was barely three hundredth behind the Jamaican athlete. In the World Championship held in Beijing, Frase-Pryce finished first in 100 meter dash, so she’s the favorite to win in Rio.

Caterine Ibargüen (Colombia)

The Colombian athlete is a double world champion in triple jump and the Olympic title is the only one missing in her career. In London, Ibargüen finished second with 14.80 meters and she was defeated by Kazakh Olga Rypakova, who reached 14.98 meters. The South American jumper won the World Championship in Beijing, right in front Israeli Minenko and Rypakova. This fact, plus her victories in the Diamond League, make her stand out as the main candidate to the title in Rio.

Yarisley Silva (Cuba)

The Cuban pole-vaulter had a great 2015, since she conquered the Pan American title in Toronto Pan-Am Games and was victorious in the World Championship in Beijing. In both events her jumps were excellent in moments of tremendous pressure. Just like Ibargüen, Silva wants the Olympic gold medal. She got the silver medal in London, behind US Jennifer Suhr, although she defeated Russian record-holder Yelena Isinbayeva. In Rio, Silva stands among the three favorites to win the title.

Denia Caballero (Cuba)

The Cuban athlete was the most stable discus thrower in 2015 and this helped her win in Toronto Pan-Am Games and the World Championship. In both events, she left her closest rivals way behind (she threw the discus almost two meters farther than Croatian Sandra Perkovic in Beijing).  Caballero is, along with Silva, one of Cuba’s strongest candidates to the title in Rio.

Pedro Pablo Pichardo (Cuba)

The Cuban athlete achieved significant results in 2015. In the past season he became the fifth man to go beyond the 18-meter barrier and he conquered the title in the Pan-Am Games. He was one of the favorites to win the crown in the World Championship in Beijing; nonetheless, that competition was mastered by Olympic and world champion Christian Taylor, who reached 18.21 meters. The duel between Taylor and Pichardo could be one of the most interesting moments in Rio. Will the world record set by British Jonathan Edwards be broken?

Shaunae Miller (Bahamas)

This Bahaman sprinter is one of the main hopes of the country to enter the Olympic medals board in Rio. She’s 21 years old and she has remarkably improved her results over the past two seasons. In 2011 she won the Junior World Championship in 400 meters, but in London Olympic Games, when she was only 18, she couldn’t qualify. 

Afterwards, in the indoor World Championship, held in Sopot, she finished third. Her presence in the elite was confirmed in Beijing, where she surprised everybody by finishing second, near champion Allyson Félix. She’ll certainly try to get even in Rio Olympic Games.

Athletics data in Rio 2016

  • The event will kick off on August 12 and come to an end on the 21st
  • 47 competitions are going to be carried out, 24 for men and 23 for women.
  • Venues: field and track at João Havelange Stadium; walk at Aterro de Flamengo and marathon at Sambodromo da Marquês de Sapucaí

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