Best sprinter of all time? Track and field greats pick Bolt

André Lowe,

MOSCOW, Russia:

Jamaican icon Usain Bolt is the greatest sprinter of all time – better than Carl Lewis.

That is according to a poll conducted by French publication L’Equipe, featuring some of track and field’s greatest names, including Sergey Bubka, Michael Johnson, and Sebastian Coe.

Bolt, who blasted Carl Lewis after his sprint double at the Olympic Games last year after the American questioned the credibility of his performances, will be looking to drive home the point when he starts the defence of his 200m title with the running of the heats and semi-finals today at the IAAF World Championships in Athletics.

Thirty experts and former greats including Jamaican coaches Glen Mills and Stephen Francis participated in the poll, with Bolt tallying 89 points to beat out American sprinters Lewis 41, Jesse Owens 31, Bob Hayes 11, Maurice Greene 10, and Tommie Smith five.

However, while Bolt continues to lay the blocks for another sprint double, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Damar Forbes, and the mile relay team will be looking to continue Jamaica’s medal charge here at the IAAF World Championships inside the Luzhniki Stadium.

Fraser-Pryce is the only Jamaican in the women’s 200m final after a comfortable passage in the heats and semis yesterday – the Jamaican posting times of 22.78 and 22.54 in each round to set up another big clash against three-time 200m world champion Allyson Felix at 12:15 p.m. (Jamaica time).

Forbes made it to the final on his last jump in the qualifying round and will be looking to become the first Jamaican since James Beckford to medal in the long jump at the World Championships level at the 10:30 a.m. assignment.

National champion and 400m semi-finalist Javere Bell is a huge doubt for Jamaica’s 4x400m team in the final (12:30 p.m.), with the management team awaiting a medical report on the fitness of the youngster. The team of Bell, Rusheen McDonald, Edino Steele, and Javon Francis was impressive in winning their heat in 3:00.41 and are genuine contenders for medals in today’s final.

The Jamaicans enter day seven of the championship with three medals (two gold, one bronze) and on the back of another tough day in the Russian capital.

Kimberly Williams barely missed out on a medal in the triple jump final, while Nickiesha Wilson struggled to make an impact in the 400m hurdles final.

It was also a day of injuries as Anneisha McLaughlin, strained her hamstring in that women’s 200m semi-final 20 metres from the finish line before crashing out and shot putter Raymond Brown tore a tendon before competition and had to withdraw at the last minute.

Williams produced the jump of her life, with a personal best 14.62m effort but missed a medal in the triple jump. Williams posted the distance on her fourth attempt, but the event was won by Colombia’s Catherine Ibraguen, with a world-leading distance of 14.85m ahead of Russia’s Ekaterina Koneva 14.81m and Ukraine’s Olha Saladuha, 14.65m.

Natoya Goule finished sixth in her heat in 2:00.93 and did not move on in the women’s 800m while Richards’ best throw of 19.08m was not enough to take him beyond the qualification round of the shot put.

Today, Bolt will be joined in the 200m heats by Olympic bronze medallist Warren Weir, 100m finalist Nickel Ashmeade and rookie Jason Livermore, while the trio of Andrea Bliss and sisters Danielle Williams and Shermaine Willliams will get started in the 100m hurdles heats. The women’s 4x400m relay heats are also set for today with Kaliese Spencer, Christine Day, Rosemarie Whyte, and Anastasia Leroy expected to turn out for the Jamaicans.

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