With no Olympic Games or world championships this year, track and field has had a harder time than usual competing for mainstream attention. But thanks to a last-minute deal that was only finalized last week, the sport will finally get its long-anticipated clash of the titans Friday.
Olympic champion and world-record holding sprinter Usain Bolt of Jamaica will line up in the 100-meter dash at the DN Galan meet in Stockholm to face his biggest rival, American Tyson Gay, the 2007 world champion. "It's huge, this is our Super Bowl, our World Series, our World Cup," says Ato Boldon, who will cover the meet for Universal Sports.
The up-and-coming network will break into its regularly scheduled programming on Friday at around 2:50pm/ET to show the race live. The meet will also be streamed at universalsports.com beginning at 2pm/ET (for a $1.99 fee) and the network will televise the full meet on tape delay at 8pm/ET. (To find out if Universal Sports is available in your area, click here.)
The pair's first meeting since the 2009 world championships final — won by Bolt in a world record 9.58 seconds, with Gay (9.71) second— has been delayed for reasons both fiscal and physical. "Bolt makes anywhere from $250,000 to $300,000 for every race," says Boldon, an Olympic medalist for his native Trinidad & Tobago in 1996 and 2000.
"That pretty much wipes out the budget that you have for most other people in the race." In addition, Bolt and Gay had various injuries earlier this summer, disrupting their racing schedules. In fact, Asafa Powell, who preceded Bolt at world-record-holder in the event, was to have been a part of the race as well, but pulled out on Wednesday due to a series of injuries of his own.
Bolt has remained undefeated since losing to Powell at the DN Galan meet in 2008, but he hasn't shown his trademark dominance this season.
That said, Boldon isn't expecting an upset. "Like the rest of the planet I think Bolt's gonna win, and pretty comfortably. But I at least want to see a race that's interesting," he says, pointing out that Gay "is the only person in the last two years who gives Usain Bolt a real fight. He doesn't throw in the towel. He will come in there very amped up and it'll be a good fight. And that's all you care about."
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