Who Should Anchor in London: Gatlin or Gay?
The United States should have an excellent 4×100-meter relay team at the 2012 London Olympics. Six of the athletes who competed in the finals at the U.S Olympic trials in Eugene, Oregon, ran under 10 seconds, which is not surprising given the great history of American sprinters.
Justin Gatlin ran a personal best of 9.80 seconds (+1.8 wind) to win the 100 meters at the U.S. trials, which proves he is in superb shape and a favorite to make the finals in London. Adding to this, his confidence is steadily rising and he remains undefeated in his 2012 outdoor season.
It is also notable that Gatlin is the 2012 World Indoor Champion in the 60 meters (6.46 seconds) and has already defeated one of Jamaica’s best sprinters, Asafa Powell, at a Diamond League competition earlier in May.
Tyson Gay, who is the American record holder in the 100 meters (9.69 seconds), ran a good race to finish second, just behind Gatlin, at the trials. Although his start is not where it needs to be just yet, Gay showed he still has the top-end speed to run with some of the best sprinters in the world. Qualifying for the Olympic team after having hip surgery last year, Gay has shown the heart of a champion. It will be interesting to see what type of times Gay is able to produce when he rounds into top form by the time the 2012 Olympics arrive.
So the questions arises, who will the U.S. Olympic relay committee decide to place on the anchor leg of the 4×100 meter relay at the Olympics?
Gatlin has proven himself as the best 100-meter sprinter in the U.S. so far by consistently winning competitive races throughout the year. But anyone with knowledge about the sport of track and field knows that the “fastest” runner does not necessarily have to be placed on the anchor leg. As a matter of fact, many coaches regularly place their best runner on the second leg. We all recall Jamaica breaking the world record (at that time) in the 4×100 relay at the 2008 Beijing Olympics with Usain Bolt running third leg. It all depends on the makeup of the relay team.
Bolt and Gay have been recognized as two of the best curve runners in track and field and both have a history of running excellent turns. With Gay’s nagging hip injury, it is doubtful he will be placed on the bend, unless he’s up for the challenge.
The potential makeup of the United States’ 4×100 relay team is dynamic, to say the least, even with the injury of 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Walter Dix. Mike Rogers, who finished fourth at the U.S. trials, will make an excellent first leg with his great start. The second leg is a very crucial and by some considered the “make or break” leg of a relay team. Gatlin has a history of running the backstretch and blew away the field at the 2012 Penn Relays. Ryan Bailey, the third qualifier for the U.S Olympic team has been under the radar, but with a time of 9.93 seconds in the 100 at the trials and a personal best of 9.88 seconds, he should make a good third leg. With Gay’s competitive spirit and willingness to win, he would be a great option to run the glorious anchor leg.
Additional information: Many athletes will be placed into the relay pool and several factors come into play when selecting the right personnel. Other potential members of the relay could be: Darvis Patton, Trell Kimmons, Wallace Spearmon, a questionable Dix, and others.
Who would you place on the United States 4×100 team? Who would you select to run anchor?
The U.S relay committee probably will not address these premature questions until the time comes. Nonetheless, the 4×100 relay is certain to be an exciting and memorable event in London for both the men and women.
Camilla Armstead is a senior at the University of Alabama majoring in Secondary Education. She has been a member of Alabama’s track team since 2010.
Brandon Spradley is a teaching assistant and doctoral student at the United States Sports Academy studying Sport Management. He was a 400-meter and relay runner for the track team at the University of Alabama.