December 17th, 2010
03:34 PM ET

Will sprint star Bolt tackle new frontiers?

After a quiet 2010, Usain Bolt will be seeking to reassert his dominance next year. (AFP/Getty Images)
After a quiet 2010, Usain Bolt will be seeking to reassert his dominance next year. (AFP/Getty Images)

CNN's World Sport will be broadcasting its predictions for 2011 in upcoming shows between December 31-January 2. In the fifth of a series of preview blogs, Paul Gittings takes a look at sprint star Usain Bolt's prospects at the World Athletics Championships.

The 2011 track and field season will be crucial in the build-up to the 2012 Olympics, and the sport’s top stars will want to lay down a marker with their performances in the major championships.

The question on everyone’s lips will be: Can Usain Bolt repeat his triple triumphs at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2009 Berlin world championships - and again break world records to boot?

The 2011 worlds in Daegu, South Korea will see the Jamaican defend his 100m and 200m individual titles as well as his country’s sprint relay title.

Despite the attentions of arch-rival Tyson Gay of the United States, expect Bolt to retain his individual crowns - but breaking his own world records will be a big ask.

His marks of 9.58 seconds and 19.19 from Berlin in 2009 could easily last a generation, if Bolt does not break them himself, and came as he built on the momentum of his Beijing gold rush.

While individual records may have to wait, the strength in depth of Jamaican sprinting increases the chances of Bolt and his cohorts breaking their own world record of 37.10 seconds in the 4x100m relay in Daegu. Aside from Bolt and Asafa Powell, a clutch of young sprinters are desperate to make their mark - witness the victory of Lerone Clarke in the Commonwealth Games in Delhi earlier this year.

The media will certainly hype up Bolt's rivalry with Gay, and that's good for a sport which has suffered from its share of doping scandals and a general decline in interest.

But from the afficianado's point of view, there is the intriguing prospect that Bolt may turn his attentions to the 400m and specifically Michael Johnson's world record time of 43.18 , which has stood for 11 long years.

Bolt's early career suggested he would be a 200-400m specialist, like American legend Johnson, and in the build-up to Beijing the 400m was very much in his sights as he prepared that winter with coach Glen Mills.

But after smashing the world 100m record in early 2008, he opted for the 100-200 double and the rest is history.

However, the showman in Bolt (and what a showman!) could surely not resist the temptation of a clean sweep of world records from 100-400 and with it athletics immortality.

It's all a question of timing. Mills said recently that Bolt would reach his peak in 2012 for the London Olympics, the assumption being that he would try to attempt his Beijing and Berlin triple, but it may just be that "Lightning" won't strike twice and he will turn his attentions to other challenges like the 400. If not then, surely in 2013.

While Bolt hogs the headlines, track and field's other superstars can sometimes be ignored, but Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele is arguably the greatest distance runner of all-time, succeeding Haile Gebrselassie as Olympic 10,000m champion.

Gebrselassie said he would quit after dropping out of the 2010 New York marathon, but then changed his mind, so his return in 2011 is also eagerly awaited. Likewise Paula Radcliffe, the women’s marathon world-record holder who has taken time out to have a second child.

London 2012 will be their focus, and a more popular marathon gold double could not be imagined.

And when Yelena Isinbayeva isn’t helping Russia to win the rights to stage football's World Cup in 2018, she can be seen breaking world records just about every week in the pole vault. After taking a break in 2010,  the two-time world and Olympic champion will surely return next year with a vengeance.

soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. JAMES GEORGE.C.NYARIBARI

    he will worn and i wish him all the best in 2011 but to break his own records men i think here he need to overdo before that day.

    December 17, 2010 at 7:02 pm | Reply
  2. Norman Munroe

    I don't know if Usain will be aiming to break any records this year, though I think not. However, all bets are off come 2012 in London. I think he has the ability to break both his 100 and 200m records and being the big occasion performer that he is, I would not put it past him. I also think that at some point he will step up to the 400m and I think no one would be more pleased to see Michael Johnson's record go than Michael Johnson, himself! And of course, hordes of screaming Jamaicans like yours truly.
    Jamaica does have a seriously talented crop of sprinters and I think that our sprint relay teams will be in good shape for some time to come. World, be very afraid....Jamaica to the world, people!

    December 18, 2010 at 6:21 am | Reply
  3. Bolt has company

    Bolt will not be tackling new frontiers alone. He is definitely a pioneer, but it won't be so easy anymore. Tyson Gay and Bolt will have intense matchups, each having their share of wins and losses to none other than each other. But the Bolt dominance is over.

    December 18, 2010 at 7:01 am | Reply
  4. Bolt DOES NOT have company

    "...the Bolt dominance is over" ???

    Ha! Ha! Ha!
    Ha! Ha!
    Ha!

    We Jamaicans laugh at you, silly earthling!

    December 19, 2010 at 12:15 am | Reply
  5. sugarstick

    Tyson will be a runner up to the greatest sprinter of all times in both 2011 and 2012.

    December 19, 2010 at 8:41 pm | Reply
  6. Dr. Cajetan Coelho

    Good luck to ace sprinter Usain Bolt and to his fellow challengers in the new year and in the new season.

    December 25, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Reply
  7. sugarstick

    I have admire Tyson's courage and fighting spirit...never in the history of track and field has one athlete faced a four pronged attack as what Jamaica has! Bolt, Powell, Carter, and Blake...watch out world!

    April 19, 2011 at 1:57 am | Reply

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