DAEGU, South Korea — Once again, Usain Bolt showed that when he steps onto the track – and doesn’t false start – no one can come close to beating the showboating Jamaican.
And once again, the Americans displayed the depth that makes them so difficult to overtake in the medal standings. They won 12 golds and 25 in all at the world championships, some from the unlikeliest of sources.
“We are the No. 1 team in the world,” said Sanya Richards-Ross, who won gold in the 1,600 relay after failing to successfully defend her 400 title. “And we wanted to send that message again this year.”
The bigger question is, can these performances be replicated in the London Olympics a year from now?
As good as the Americans were, they still didn’t reach the lofty ambition of “Project 30,” the number of medals former USA Track and Field CEO Doug Logan thought the team should aim for in 2012.
Everything would have to break just right to reach that total. There would have to be more surprises such as Christian Taylor winning gold in the triple jump and Jenny Barringer Simpson taking the 1,500-meter title, something an American hasn’t done since Mary Decker Slaney nearly three decades ago.
Not only that, but the shot putters couldn’t be shut out like they were in Daegu.
It used to be the men’s sprint relay was an automatic medal for the Americans. These days, it’s a struggle to even finish.
The team could only watch as Bolt powered through the finish line and lifted the Jamaicans to a world record of 37.04.
By Bolt’s own admission, he wasn’t in record-breaking shape for the worlds. And by his own doing, he didn’t get a chance to prove himself in the 100 final after he jumped the gun and was disqualified.
He atoned by winning the 200 in 19.40 seconds – the fourth-fastest time ever – before the record-setting relay.
“I’ve been breaking world records, so I don’t think I need to change my ways,” he said.
The U.S. women sent a message in their robust sprint rivalry with Jamaica: Game on.
With Carmelita Jeter’s victory in the 100, what was once a one-sided affair has suddenly evened out. Jeter also held off Veronica Campbell-Brown on the anchor leg to help the U.S. to gold in the 400 relay.
In light of what transpired at the worlds, Allyson Felix is going to give careful consideration to whether she will attempt the difficult 200-400 double in London.
She captured silver in the 400, but it left her fatigued for her signature event, the 200. Felix didn’t have her customary surge at the end and failed in her bid to win the 200 world title for a fourth straight time, settling for bronze.
She did look strong in both the 1,600 and 400 relays, winning both to give her eight gold medals over her past four championships.