Jamaica’s Rio Olympic champions Usain Bolt and Omar McLeod will, on a rare occasion, clash in the 100m at the Monaco Diamond League tomorrow (Friday).
Bolt, who is the double world record holder for the 100m and 200m and three-time Olympic 100m champion, will match strides with McLeod — the 110m hurdles champion, the 60m World Indoor champion, and the first athlete in history to run under 10 seconds for the 100m and below 13 seconds for the 110m hurdles.
Also in the race is the improving South African Akine Simbine, whose 9.92 is the fastest this season and who could make his presence felt.
Then there is the emerging American Christopher Belcher, who clocked 9.93; Asian champion Bingtian Su, the first Asian to run the 100m under 10 seconds; and Great Britain’s Chijindu Ujah, who has a season’s best of 9.98.
But all eyes will be focused on the matchup that pits the greatest sprinter of all time against a man aiming to become the greatest sprint hurdler in history.
McLeod, who has dominated the 110m hurdles since last year, has the four fastest times in the world this season, on his way to gaining Jamaica’s national record of 12.90.
He dominated the 110m and 400m hurdles in high school by setting national records in 2013 of 13.24 and 49.98, becoming the first schoolboy to break the 50-second barrier.
Having not run the 100m in five years, the former Manchester High, Kingston College and University of Arkansas star then lowered his personal best from 11.02 to 9.99 in 2016 at the John McDonnell Invitational in Fayetteville, USA.
The NCAA 2015 110-metre hurdles champion could give the Jamaican authorities something to think about as a viable alternative for what is turning out to be a depleted 4x100m relay team to London.
With no Nesta Carter, Michael Frater, Asafa Powell, Nickel Ashmeade, and with Yohan Blake having a slight groin concern, a personal best or good showing by McLeod could force his way into that team. Whether he wants that or not is another matter.
Meanwhile, this will be Bolt’s first appearance since visiting German doctor Hans-Wilhelm Müller-Wohlfahrt in June with a stiff back after clocking 10.06 at the Golden Spike meeting in Ostrava.
The fastest man that ever lived will want to test his readiness just weeks before the World Championships, while the world waits with bated breath for his first sub-10 clocking of the season.
Bolt also won his last competitive race in Jamaica in 10.03 seconds at the JN Racers Grand Prix on June 10 in Kingston. (Jamaica Observer)