After a week of action at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the track and field events are finally getting underway.
All eyes will be on the men’s and women’s 100m sprint, which for many is the highlight of the Games.
Photo via Olympics.com
This year’s edition is also significant, because it will be the first Games since 2008 to be without eight-time gold medallist Usain Bolt of Jamaica.
Despite the absence of the world’s fastest man, there are a number of worthy contenders in the men’s and women’s competition to keep us all glued to our TV screens.
Here, we take a look at some of the big names who are expected to make their mark in Tokyo.
Andre de Grasse (Canada)
Photo via Canadian Press
De Grasse was a bronze medallist in Rio behind Bolt and Justin Gatlin…and is once again one of the favourites for the 100m crown this year.
He is regarded by some to be Bolt’s successor, although with a personal best of only 9.90, he is some way off from the Jamaican’s world record time of 9.58.
Trayvon Bromell (USA)
Photo via AFP
Bromell the most in-form runner heading into Tokyo. He has won six of his seven 100m races this year, and has the fastest time of 2021 at 9.77.
Ronnie Baker (USA)
Photo via USATF
Baker is another top contender in Tokyo, by virtue of coming in second to Bromell at the recent US Olympic trials.
He also won the 100m at the Diamond League event in Stockholm earlier this month.
Akani Simbine (South Africa)
Photo via Getty Images
The 27-year-old is the current African 100m record holder with an impressive time of 9.84 seconds.
He’s extremely bullish about his chances in Tokyo, and is definitely capable of pulling off an upset against the North Americans.
Prediction: With Usain Bolt now retired, the competition in the men’s field is the most open its been in years.
The uncertainty is what makes this year’s event so exciting.
De Grasse may be the favourite on paper, but Bromell and Baker are in a good position to once again put the USA back on top.
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (Jamaica)
Photo via Getty Images
With Usain Bolt’s absence, this two-time Olympic gold medallist is arguably the biggest attraction at the Tokyo athletics track, and is THE athlete to beat.
Even at the age of 34, she ran 10.63 earlier this year… to become the second-fastest woman ever.
If she wins in Tokyo, she will become the first woman to win three Olympic titles in the 100m.
Elaine Thompson-Herah (Jamaica)
Photo via Zuma Press
The defending Olympic champion is another one of the favourites in the women’s field.
At 29, she has an age advantage over Fraser-Pryce…and even defeated her compatriot at an event in Hungary earlier this month.
Dina Asher-Smith (Great Britain)
Photo via PA
The World Championship silver medallist is the fastest British woman in history.
She did suffer a hamstring problem earlier this month, but if fully fit, Asher-Smith will pose the biggest threat to the Jamaican’s dominance in Tokyo.
Prediction: This is shaping up to be a real cracker.
The closest Olympics women’s 100m final was in 1996, where 0.02 seconds separated Gail Devers, Merlene Ottey and Gwen Torrence.
In terms of drama, that will be hard to beat.
But if Fraser-Pryce and Thompson-Herah stick to form and make it into the final, we could have one of the most tightly-contested races in years.
The track and field events begin on Friday, July 30.
You can watch all the excitement of Tokyo 2020 across multiple channels in HD and 4K UHD on ASTRO.
By: Nicholas Darren John