Athletics Betting: "I know I can run faster," says Usain Bolt
The fastest man in the world is promising something special when he attempts to break his own world record in Paris tomorrow night. Ralph Ellis reports...
Sport has a long history of 'what ifs'. What if Maradona hadn't got away with the 'hand of god' goal in 1986? What if Gazza had got his foot an extra inch forward to score the winner against Germany in extra time in 1996? What if David Beckham hadn't got sent off in 1998? What if he'd been fit in 2002?
Here's another more recent one. What if Usain Bolt had just kept running flat out in the 100metres final in Beijing rather than started showboating with 20 yards to go? His amazing run to Olympic Gold had to be the defining sporting image of last year: those massive long legs, not so much running as cruising, a breathtaking 9.69 seconds that captured the essence of pure sport and the pure joy of running fast. There were those who said he was show-boating, but he was simply a man lost in the excitement of winning the biggest prize his sport has to offer.
But it left a question. How fast could he complete that distance? Where once there were eminent scientists who ruled it was a physical impossibility for a man to run 100metres in less than 10 seconds, now you started to wonder if it could be done in less than nine-and-a-half.
Well, watch the weather forecast, because tomorrow we might just find out how much Bolt could take off that time if he's applying himself only to breaking a record and not to winning a race.
Bolt runs in the IAAF Golden League meeting in Paris and has promised to offer "something special" to the crowd. He's appearing in only a handful of events this summer in the build up to the world championships, the next of them in the London Grand Prix next weekend when he'll race Asafa Powell.
That means when he is on the track there will be an accent on quality, and he's been talking up his chances of improving that record. "I know I can run faster," he told a press conference in Paris. "The world record can go at any time. If the weather in Paris stays as it is, warm with a breeze, there could be something special."
That promises a good lesson for Britain's Simeon Williamson, who will be in tomorrow night's race. The 23-year-old from North London has just run Europe's fastest 100metres of the year when he clocked 10.05 seconds at Birmingham, and the statisticians reckoned a tough headwind made that the equivalent of 9.90. It's still not quick enough to trouble Bolt, and it's not hard to understand why you can't back the Jamaican against the field at less than [1.08].
But if you fancy a flutter there's a spread of between [2.62] and [4.2] for the giant sprinter to beat his own world best. Try putting up something like [3.5] and see if you can get it matched.
Five things you might not know about Simeon Williamson
1. Born in Islington in 1986 to Jamaican parents, he was persuaded to join Highgate Harriers athletics club by a teacher who'd seen how fast he ran in a school football game
2. British high-jumper Germaine Mason is his second cousin
3. He refused to share a room with Dwain Chambers at the 2008 Indoor World Championships
4. Speed obviously runs in the family. His grandmother Pearline made headlines last year after chasing a mugger down a North London street - at the age of 78!
5. He had his wisdom tooth taken out in June this year
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