There can be no denying that the 100m sprint is one of the most breathtaking events in the athletics schedule at a multi-discipline celebration of sport like the Commonwealth Games. After two rounds of heats being run on the opening day of the Delhi 2010 track and field competition on Wednesday, it is clear that we are in for explosive action in the final on Thursday evening.
For long, the uncharitable have lamented the absence of Usain Bolt and, to some extent, Asafa Powell. But, on the evidence of what was showcased in the heats on Wednesday, I am sure we will be treated to a delightful and memorable final where raw power and calculated precision, sheer pace and unbridled passion will all come to the fore.
Jamaica’s Oshane Bailey, Nigeria’s Egwero Ogho-Oghene, England’s Mark Lewis-Francis and Canada’s Sam Effah have raised visions of an exciting contest. They clocked times between 10.12 seconds and 10.15 seconds on Wednesday. And there are others like Trinidad’s Emmanuel Callendar and Lerone Clarke (Jamaica) who turned in good times as well.
The 21-year-old Bailey looks ready to slip out of the shadow of two men who have hogged the limelight as Jamaica’s quickest sprinters – Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell. And, 28-year-old European championship silver medallist Lewis-Francis seems to be getting better as he clocked his season’s best in the first round.
The goodly and throaty crowd that turned up at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium for the athletics competition saw raw power on display from the opening race. India’s Mohammed Abdul Najeeb Qureshi got tremendous support too as he logged in a personal best of 10.30 and made it to the semifinals.
The crowd also cheered Uganda’s Moses Kipsiro when he held back the challenge of three Kenyans Eliud Kipchoge, Mark Kiptoo and Kipsegechi Yator. In the process, he broke the Indian all-comers’ 5000m record with a time of 13:31.25 that was nearly six seconds faster than the record set by Bamber Kosgei (Kenya) back in 1994.
Talking of Indian all-comers records takes me back to the 100m race as I believe we will see the fastest 100m run on Indian soil in the final, given that Bailed clocked 10.12 despite easing off in the second round. Qatar’s Samuel Francis, who broke the beam in 10.10 seconds in Hyderabad on October 16, 2007, is the owner of the Indian all-comers record in the event.
Indeed, the actual race may last, more or less, 10 seconds but it captures the essence of a management project, including minute planning and careful execution. So, no matter what sport you play or officiate in or even support, make it a point to watch the Delhi 2010 men’s 100m final at 7.30 p.m. on Thursday. It promises to be a stunning and memorable affair.