Pictures, they say, are worth a thousand words, and one snapped on May 8 during the Cayman Invitational track meet in Georgetown certainly proves this cliché true. For Usain Bolt, the word was “victory,” as a photo finish gave the two-time Jamaican Olympian a narrow win over countryman and training partner Kemar Bailey Cole in the 100-meter dash.
Bolt trailed the 19-year-old Cole for much of the race, and even though he seemingly edged past in the final tenth of a second, both sprinters were given identical official times of 10.09.
But “victory” isn’t the word on everyone’s tongue. Some critics of the 26-year-old six-time gold medalist may start flinging around phrases like “has-been” and “past his prime.” That’s because Bolt—who hold the world record in the 100 meters at 9.58—failed to break 10 seconds, and his Cayman finish marked his worst season opener in four years. As Letsrun.com reports, Bolt kicked off last season with a time of 9.82, and in the three years prior, he debuted in 9.91, 9.86 and 9.93, respectively.
Bolt’s subpar Cayman performance came days after two-time U.S. Olympian Tyson Gay started his season with an impressive 100-meter win at the Jamaica Invitational in Kingston, where he finished in 9.86. Gay, whose personal-best of 9.69 ties him with Bolt’s teammate Yohan Blake for second-fastest performer of all time in the event, is out to prove he’s still a contender, even though, at 30 years old, he has battled hip and groin injuries and is significantly older than most of his challengers.
While the early results out of Kingston and the Caymans suggest that Gay can still give Bolt a run for his money, both men may be saving their best races for August, when they plan to meet at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow.
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg