Allyson Felix who won at the London 2012 games will miss her first 200m Olympic final in 12 years. Her absence has taken off some of the sheen from this event. In fact none of the athletes who participated in the medal ceremony in London will be present on this occasion in Rio.
Veronica Campbell-Brown is the only back-to-back champion in this event in the last 20 years. She is a model of consistency and epitomizes the true characteristics of a champion performer. She was fourth at the London Olympics but it was her performance in last year’s world championship final that won many hearts. Written off by many at the start of the championships and indeed in the final, after claiming the last non-automatic qualifying spot, Campbell-Brown defied the odds and proved that she’s among the all-time greats who deserve respect with a magnificent bronze medal run in 21.97. She performs best when the chips are down and 16 years after making her senior debut in Sydney she is still around.
She will have to contend with a new breed of sprinters, Dafne Schippers and Elaine Thompson, gold and silver medallists from the Beijing world championships, who don’t take prisoners. The showdown in Rio between these two who share so many similarities will be one of the highlights of the games. Both athletes were born eight days apart, ran their personal bests and won world championships medals in the same race.
Schippers is an unrelenting force. Her strength and power over the last 50 metres of this event looks unmatched. The flying Dutch-woman who incidentally competed in the heptathlon four years ago at the London Olympics is determined to raise her arms in triumph and hear her country’s national anthem being played inside the stadium. Not too many persons would bet against that happening.
Those who would bet against Schippers are supporters of Jamaican sprint dynamo Elaine Thompson. The world championship silver medallist is the 5th fastest woman of all-time (21.66) and some experts share the view that once Thompson executes properly and keeps her composure throughout she can defeat Schippers by the narrowest of margins. Schippers leads in the head-to-head clashes; however, Thompson if she has recovered sufficiently from injury would want to stem the lopsided results so far starting in Rio.
Former long jumper now a promising sprinter Tori Bowie is another athlete to watch in this epic encounter. Bowie is the forgotten medallist from that fascinating 100m race in Beijing. The 2016 American champion ran a new PB 21.99 at the Pre-Fontaine classic in May. She has been consistent on the circuit all season and will be hoping that in Rio she won’t stay in the rear view mirror of Schippers and Thompson but possibly shift gears and overtake them before the finish line. The fans will be holding their breaths and waiting to exhale after 21 seconds.