Even though Berkeley-alum Mike Rodgers came to Parque Kennedy as the heavy favorite in the men’s 100 metre sprint Wednesday, he did not disappoint as he struck gold and became the “Fastest Man in the Americas,” all at the 2019 Pan-American Games in Lima, Peru.
While his winning-time of 10.09 was close to a quarter-second slower than his personal best (9.85), he still outlasted Paulo de Oliveira of Brazil by .07. His American teammate, Cravon Gillespie, who became a big name this last spring as he raced for the University of Oregon, finished sixth with a time of 10.38.
From 2008-17, there was little doubt Usain Bolt owned the track in both the men’s 100 and 200 metre sprints. Add in a 4×100 metre relay, and he would usually go three-for-three (despite what you’d see from his teammates in subsequent years). For nearly two years, the campaign to be the “World’s Fastest Man” has been a three way battle between Rogers, 2004 Olympic gold medalist Justin Gatlin, and reigning national champion Christian Coleman– all represent the United States. You could also factor in 2016 Rio Olympian Divine Oduduru of Nigeria (who won three individual titles for Texas Tech), and the field already appears to be set.
Divine could also contend for a medal in the men’s 200 metres, a race where Bolt scored easy wins in Beijing, London, and Rio. However, the new man in charge appears to be national champion Noah Lyles, who’s career I have followed since the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympics. While Christian can challenge in the 200, Noah can do likewise in the other.
This race should be interesting. However, Wednesday belonged to Rodgers. We can probably have a better scope on the world’s greatest sprinters as the 2019 Diamond League season continues. There is also the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar. From there, we can solidify our predictions for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics– especially since the United States will have it’s qualifying trials eight months after.