The United States' competitors in the men's 100 meter dash include two Olympic veterans in the middle of comebacks, and one up and coming sprinter who is competing in his first Olympics. Notably absent from the list is Walter Dix, who won the bronze in 2008. Dix suffered a hamstring injury earlier in the season. Here's a look at the three athletes who are representing the U.S in the men's 100 meters in London.
Gatlin won the gold in the 2004 Olympics in Athens, plus a silver in the 4 X 100 relay and a bronze in the 200 meters. He was just 22 years old at the time, and it seemed like he would be a top sprinter on the international track scene for several years. However, Gatlin tested positive for excessive testosterone in 2006, and served a four year ban for doping. Gatlin could only watch as Jamaica's Usain Bolt won the gold in the 100 meters in Beijing in 2008.
Gatlin has performed very well in the 2012 track season, and is once again an elite sprinter. He won the U.S. 100 meter trials with a time of 9.80, and won the 100 meters at international meets in Doha, Qatar, Daegu, South Korea, and Eugene, Oregon. There are those who would prefer that Gatlin be permanently disqualified from the Olympics because of his past doping suspension; nonetheless, he is back and performing at a high level and has an excellent chance to pick up a medal in this event.
Gay, who turns 30 on August 9th, was one of the favorites in the 100 meters in Beijing. He was slowed by a hamstring injury suffered during the 2008 Olympic trials and didn't make it to the finals. When he's healthy, Gay is among the best sprinters in the world; his time of 9.69 in a 2009 meet in Shanghai is the second fastest ever. But his career has been plagued with injuries, including a hip injury requiring surgery that kept him out of most of the 2011 season. Gay did not compete in the early part of the 2012 season, but made a statement with his time of 9.86 in the finals of the Olympic trials, second behind Gatlin. He followed that with a victory in a Diamond League meet in London on July 13th. If Gay is indeed back at the top of his form, he can compete with anyone in the world. He is one of the few who have topped Bolt in the 100 the past few years, doing so back in 2010.
Bailey was third in the trials with a time of 9.93. His personal best is 9.88 set in 2010. He'll probably need a to improve on that 9.88 to medal in this very competitive field, but at age 23, Bailey could be at his peak in 2016 and a top contender in the event at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
The men's 100 meters is one of the premier track events in every Olympics, and this year is no exception. I'm looking forward to seeing Gatlin, Gay, Bolt, and Blake finally competing against each other on track and field's biggest stage.
A Featured Contributor in Sports for the Yahoo! Contributor Network, Mark Hudziak is a long time fan of Olympic track and field.
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