By Gary Smith, World-Track
KINGSTON, Jamaica — We all know what Usain Bolt will do this weekend at the Supreme Ventures Limited Jamaica Championships, so that is not the argument.
The interesting part is who will join him on the sprint teams for the upcoming IAAF World Championships in Berlin, later this year.
Apart from Bolt, who again signaled his intensions to have yet another remarkable season with a slightly wind-assisted eye-popping 9.77seconds in Ostrava, last week, there are no other clear contenders for a spot in sprints.
No betting against Asafa
Of course we know that if he is fit Asafa Powell will undoubtedly book his spot and could even challenge Bolt for the national title, but how fit his he?
Powell, who has been hampered by an ankle injury since April, has been struggling to find the right form this season, though he looked somewhat like himself when running his seasonal best of 10.07 at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, earlier this month.
A Year ago Bolt was in superb form and Powell’s coach Stephen Francis recalled his pupil would only do enough to make the team.
So is that the case again this year, or will we see the former world record holder springing a huge surprise this term?
More to watch out for
As it was in previous years, there will a whole heap of improving athletes to look out for.
Taking Bolt and Powell away, the chasing pack will be led by teenager sensation Yohan Blake, who is determined to make the 100m team for Berlin.
Blake is the joint second fastest Jamaican this season with a 10.07 PB, and he along with former 200m champion Steve Mullings (10.12), Michael Frater (10.14), the 2005 world silver medallist and Nesta Carter, the lead off runner on the world record breaking team in Beijing, are definitely the main candidates for – let just say – the other spot.
World Junior and Youth champion Dexter Lee, who recently signed a professional contract, has the talent, but one feels this season will be difficult for him bounce with the big boys.
Bolt should cruise here
Bolt is expected to breeze through the 200m dash also, with his best challenges being training his partner Marvin Anderson (20.15), Ainsley Waugh (20.22) and veteran Chris Williams (20.62), who is a former world silver medal winner.
Teenage Nickel Ashmeade has gone 20.49secs this year and will be hoping to improve this performance to gain his debut spot on the senior team.
The women’s short sprints exciting too
The women’s sprint races are also expected to be just lively.
With Veronica Campbell-Brown already qualified for Berlin in the 100m, after wining the title at the last championships, there are still three places up for grab.
Motivated by her two world-leading sub-11 runs this season Kerron Stewart, who sizzled to 10.92secs and 10.93secs, will start confident as the one to beat.
Battling with the Olympic silver medallist will be defending champion Shelly Ann Fraser, who earned her place on the top podium in Beijing, with the perfect race from start to finish, as well as Sherone Simpson, the silver medallist in that race but is yet to race in the short dash this season.
Aleen Bailey and Commonwealth Games champion Sheri Ann Brooks should also be close by.
Campbell-Brown, the Olympic gold medallist is the top starter in the women’s 200m, which also includes Stewart, the bronze medal winner from Beijing, Bailey, Simone Facey and Samantha Henry.