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Bolt, Blake could seize London Olympics spotlight

LONDON (AP) — By a time Usain Bolt‘s showboating, record-breaking, gold-gobbling act on a lane got revved adult during a Beijing Games 4 years ago, Michael Phelps already was resolutely determined as The Star of those Olympics.

Nothing anyone did — even Bolt’s rare brush of a 100, 200 and 4×100-meter send with best-in-history times — could presumably take a spotlight from Phelps and his eight-gold opening in a pool.

Now it’s a opposite story.

The initial week of a London Olympics left a conspicuous cavity on core stage. As if on cue, adult stairs Bolt, a gaseous Jamaican competitor who comes in with a many to win, and lose, as a 10-day entertainment accommodate starts Friday during 80,000-seat Olympic Stadium.

Bolt wants zero reduction than to turn a “living legend” and is good wakeful that repeat victories in a dual particular sprints will put him there. Of course, he’ll need to be improved than countryman Yohan Blake, who dissapoint Bolt in a 100 and 200 finals during a Jamaican trials.

Win or not, Bolt is guaranteeing a good show.

“Hands down. For sure,” he said. “I’m meditative this could simply be one of a fastest 100 meters anybody has ever seen, since these guys have shown a lot of intensity via a season. There are guys that have been using fast, generally since it’s an Olympic year.”

Bolt was coasting, thumping his chest before he crossed a finish line, when he set a universe record in Beijing during 9.69 seconds. At a universe championships a year later, he lowered it to 9.58. Bolt and his coach, Glen Mills, both contend a 100-meter run in a 9.4-second operation is possible, though usually if a continue in London cooperates. The foresee for Sunday night’s final calls for ghastly skies with a 30 percent possibility of rain.

Beyond Bolt and Blake, scarcely each categorical contender in a marquee eventuality has a good story to tell. There are Americans Tyson Gay (oft-injured, still in hunt of an Olympic medal) and Justin Gatlin (2004 Olympic champion, behind in 2012 after a four-year doping ban), and another Jamaican, 29-year-old Asafa Powell, a former world-record hilt who is still fast, generally out of a blocks, though has been surpassed by his dual younger countrymen over a past several years.

That’s partial of an ongoing duel between Jamaica and a United States. The showdown starts Friday with a opening heats of a women’s 100, where Carmelita Jeter represents America’s best possibility to mangle a island nation’s Olympic rule.

At Beijing in 2008, Jamaica swept a women’s 100, with Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Sherone Simpson and Kerron Stewart capturing a medals. Fraser-Pryce and Stewart are back, assimilated by Veronica Campbell-Brown, a grand lady (at age 30) of Jamaican sprints, a two-time champion in a 200 who has a possibility during a 100-200 double.

“I do suffer a rivalry,” Campbell-Brown said. “It’s good for a sport.”

The foe could use a boost, frankly. Track and margin has spent a past decade or so weighed down by a possess problems — bad characters, vacated annals and titles, a consistent spook of doping — and in danger of apropos unintelligent material. No improved time than a benefaction to lapse to prominence, and with a opening combined during a London Games, this could be a chance.

“I wish when a Olympics come around, and we’re on a large stage, people will take an seductiveness in a story and wish to keep following,” pronounced U.S. competitor Allyson Felix, whose query for her initial Olympic pretension in a 200 after dual silvers will also be value watching. “It could move some certain light onto lane and field.”

Since a Olympic cauldron began blazing final week — it’s now in a south finish of a lane — a Olympics have been filled with stops and starts, some good, some bad, though zero transcendent.

Phelps did conduct to turn a most-decorated Olympian ever, as expected, though conjunction he nor U.S. teammate Ryan Lochte has been anywhere tighten to dominant.

In gymnastics, American Jordyn Wieber was deliberate a intensity black of her foe until she missed subordinate for a all-around, forcing her to settle simply for being another member of an all-star expel as a Americans won a group gold.

Actually, as it’s incited out, a many talked-about foe early this week substantially was badminton, of all things, since players were kicked out for apparently attempting to remove instead of win in an bid to get a some-more auspicious symbol in a subsequent round.

What these Olympics unequivocally could use as they conduct to Week 2 is a jar — brave we contend a Bolt — of good news.

About a year ago, lane fans competence have pegged these Olympics as small some-more than a time hearing and a possibility to rewrite a record book for The World’s Fastest Man, who also owns a 200 record of 19.19 and helped Jamaica’s 4×100 send group finish in 37.10, nonetheless another new mark, in Beijing.

But things have changed.

First, there was a fake start during a universe championships final year. Bolt detonate out of a blocks too early and now became a many high-profile plant of track’s new zero-tolerance rule, that immediately disqualifies someone who jumps a gun, instead of arising a warning to a full margin on a initial fake start.

That DQ non-stop a doorway for Bolt’s training partner, Blake. Any questions about his legitimacy as a universe champion were answered this summer, when Blake faced Bolt and kick him not once, though twice, during Jamaica’s Olympic trials.

“There’s no pressure,” pronounced Blake, who was given his nickname of “The Beast” by nothing other than Bolt. “Yes, I’m a fastest male in a universe right now and some people contend I’m a male to beat, though when we’re on a line, it’s different.”

Bolt, who was bad removing out of a blocks in a 100 in Kingston, after pronounced he had hamstring problems associated to a bad back. The biggest doubt streamer into a Olympics is either 4 weeks were adequate for Bolt to work out a kinks.

“I don’t unequivocally wish to contend he’s vulnerable,” Gay said. “Like we pronounced several times, this man has really valid he can run 9.5, 9.6, 9.7. He’s a usually man who’s been where we haven’t been. we consider he still has to be one of a favorites. He’s a champion and knows what it takes to contest on this level.”

While Bolt tries to concrete his standing in history, and Gay and a rest try to stop him, others will use a Olympics to conquer opposite goals.

For Oscar Pistorius, whose legs were amputated subsequent a knee before he was a year aged since he was innate but fibulas, a Olympic query has been especially about competing on a same lane as robust athletes. The South African “Blade Runner” will line adult in a 400 meters Saturday and turn a initial amputee to contest on a lane during a Olympics.

“The dream of his was to be means to run with a robust athletes, and he knew what he had to do to make that happen, time-wise, and he worked his boundary off to get it,” fortifying 400 champion LaShawn Merritt of a U.S. “He’s here now.”

As is Caster Semenya, a 800-meter curtain who led her group into a lane for a opening ceremonies as South Africa’s flag-bearer. The 21-year-old will contest during her initial Olympics, 3 years after a gender-test debate that threatened her career and sidelined her from foe for scarcely a year.

Semenya contingency wait until subsequent Wednesday for her initial race. A prominence of Day 1 on Friday, positively for a British spectators, total to be a heptathlon and their possess Jessica Ennis, who was a 2009 universe champion and 2011 universe china medalist.

She missed a 2008 Olympics since of a damaged right feet and now bears a weight of copiousness of expectations as she competes during home.

“I’m perplexing not to consider about it too much,” Ennis said, “because that again adds some-more pressure.”


AP Sports Writers Pat Graham, Raf Casert and Gerald Imray contributed to this report.


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