Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson analyzes Usain Bolt

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Michael Johnson believes Usain Bolt can break 19 seconds in the 200m, as he’s said before, but isn’t sure if Bolt has passed his prime yet.

Johnson, the former 200m world record holder, was asked about Bolt, the current 200m world record holder, at the Laureus Sports Awards in Kuala Lumpur this week.

Johnson broke the 200m world record twice in 1996, clocking 19.66 seconds at the U.S. Olympic Trials and 19.32 at the Atlanta Olympics. Bolt took it lower with a 19.30 at the 2008 Olympics and 19.19 at the 2009 World Championships.

“I think [Bolt] could go under 19 seconds, but then beyond that I’m not quite sure,” Johnson said, according to Sportal. “Technically, he’s not the best. Technically he’s a little bit all over the place and that’s a race where the longer it goes, the more you need to be really efficient in order to be able to maintain the level of speed that you want.

“And so that’s something that, if were to clean up some of those things, I think he could go under 19 seconds.”

The comments echo what Johnson said in 2011. Johnson has also said Bolt could run the 100m in 9.4 seconds. The current mark, set by Bolt in 2009, is 9.58.

Even though Johnson says Bolt could go faster, he also cautioned that the Jamaican superstar’s fastest days may be behind him. Bolt is 27 years old. Johnson was 28 when he broke those world records in 1996.

“If I had to guess and go out there and say whether or not we’ve seen the best of him, I would say probably, but you never know with him,” Johnson said, according to the report. “There’s the argument for both. You could say that, as a sprinter gets older you’re not going to get faster, probably, you’re going to get slower and not faster.

“Then on the other side of things, I don’t know if he has done everything that he possibly could to go out there and be the best that he can be.”

Johnson also pointed out that Jamaica’s reign in sprinting could last beyond the era of Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who is also 27.

“You’ve got young kids there inspired by the success of Bolt and [Yohan] Blake and all of the Jamaican team, plus there’s been renewed investment in coaching and great training too,” he said, according to Yahoo. “The Jamaicans will continue to be tough for years to come.”

Olympic golf test event may be canceled, official says

World Cup Alpine season opener gets green light

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After checking the snow on the Rettenbach glacier in Soelden, Austria, FIS officials announced Thursday that the traditional World Cup season opener is set to go ahead as planned Oct. 26-27 with men’s and women’s giant slalom races.

Current conditions at Soelden show a solid 30 inches of snow at the summit. The race finishes at an altitude of 2,670 meters (8,760 feet), far above the currently snowless village.

The first races of the season are never guaranteed to have enough snow, though last year’s men’s race at Soelden had the opposite problem, being canceled when a storm blew through with heavy snowfall and high winds. 

France’s Tessa Worley won the women’s race last year ahead of Italy’s Frederica Brignone and U.S. skier Mikaela Shiffrin, who would go on to dominate the rest of the World Cup season.

The Soelden weekend is followed by three dormant weeks until the season resumes Nov. 23-24 in Levi, Finland. The World Cup circuits then switch to North America. The men will run speed events Nov. 30-Dec. 1 in Lake Louise, Alberta, then head to Beaver Creek, Colo., for more speed events and a giant slalom Dec. 6-8. The women run slalom and giant slalom Nov. 30-Dec. 1 in Killington, Vt., and head to Lake Louise the next weekend.

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Olympic marathon and race walk move from Tokyo to Sapporo draws some pushback

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In the wake of a dropout-plagued set of world championship endurance races in Qatar, moving the 2020 Olympic marathons and race walks from Tokyo to the cooler venue of Sapporo is a quick fix for one problem, pending the potential for untimely heat waves.

But the move has drawn some opposition for a variety of reasons.

First, many organizers and politicians appear to have been caught by surprise. Tokyo’s governor, Yuriko Koike, was “taken aback” and Sapporo’s mayor, Katsuhiro Akimoto, learned about the move from the media, Kyodo News reported. Koike even sarcastically suggested that the races could move all the way northward to islands disputed by Russia and Japan.

South African sports scientist Ross Tucker suggested that running in heat and humidity poses an interesting challenge for athletes, some of whom may be able to catch up with faster runners by preparing for the conditions.

British marathoner Mara Yamauchi made a similar point, saying the move was unfair to those who already were preparing for the heat, humidity and other conditions.

Belgian marathoner Koen Naert said he will make the best of the change but complained that some of his preparation and every runner’s logistical planning would no longer apply.

The angriest athlete may be Canadian walker Evan Dunfee, who placed fourth in the 2016 Olympic 50km race and nearly claimed bronze as a Canadian appeal was upheld but then rejected. He says runners and walkers can beat the conditions if they prepare, which many athletes did not do for the world championships in Qatar.

“So why do we cater to the ill prepared?” Dunfee asked on Twitter.

The move also takes athletes out of the main Olympic city and takes away the traditional, tough less frequent in modern years, finish in the Olympic stadium.

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