There’s no point pondering who’ll replace Usain Bolt as the face of world athletics; he’s irreplaceable. He supersedes the sport and is a once in a lifetime athlete. However, with 2017 likely to be the great Jamaican’s last season, it’s finally time for someone else to emerge as the new face of sprinting. Whether they can break any of Bolt’s records remains to be seen, but there are plenty who have shown athletic promise.
Andre De Grasse
The young Canadian burst onto the scene at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing, running 9.92 seconds to win 100metre bronze. In doing so he became the first athlete from Canada to win a 100m medal since Bruny Surin in 1999.
He’s continued to show his Championship credentials in Rio, where he ran two personal bests (PB) and won three medals. A bronze in the 100m was only the start for De Grasse as he won silver behind Bolt in the 200m and helped his country claim 4x100m relay bronze.
You can’t help but be seriously impressed by the 21-year-old, who seems to flourish on the big stage and constantly brings his A-game. De Grasse is continuously improving and there’s no doubt that he’ll run faster over both the 100m and the 200m. He already has an impressive list of achievements and has the swagger of a future champion. It’s not everyone that can ease up and have a chat with Usain Bolt during an Olympic 200m semi-final.
Wayde van Niekerk
By the age of 24, Wayde van Niekerk has achieved what many track and field athletes can only dream of. As if being World Champion wasn’t enough, van Niekerk decimated the rest of the field to win 400m Olympic gold in Rio, smashing Michael Johnson’s 17-year-old world record in the process.
Moreover, it’s not a matter of if, but rather when he’ll be the first person to break the hallowed 43 second mark.
Granted the South African isn’t directly comparable to Bolt given that he’s primarily a 400m runner, but he’s a sprinting sensation nonetheless. He’s the first man to ever run under 44 seconds for a 400m, 20 seconds for a 200m and 10 seconds for the 100m.
Whether he chooses to double up and run the 200m in the future remains to be seen, but with Bolt out of the picture he may fancy his chances at glory over the shorter distance. There’s no doubt van Niekerk could do some damage over 200m given that he’s already dipped under 20 seconds despite tailoring his training towards the 400m.
He’s already a superstar, but unbelievably the future could hold even bigger things for the 400m world record holder.
Things might not have gone Trayvon Bromell’s way in Rio, but the 21-year-old has an extremely bright future. The US sprinter finished eighth in the 100m final in Brazil. To make things worse he thought he’d anchored the USA to a 4x100m relay bronze only to discover they’d been disqualified.
Rio aside, the young American impressed at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing when he claimed bronze in the 100m. Unlike Bolt, De Grasse and van Niekerk, Bromell currently only looks a threat over one distance. That said, he’s hardly a slouch over 200m and has a PB of 20.03.
Bromell has consistently run under 10 seconds in track and field’s marquee event and holds the accolade of being the first ever junior sprinter to do so. With a PB of 9.84 he’s highlighted his ability to deliver impressive times. In addition to this the youngster also won 60m gold at the World Indoors this year, showing that he’s a fast starter who’s not to be underestimated.
He may not have won an individual Olympic or World Championship medal, but Jimmy Vicaut certainly has the potential to do so. The Frenchman ran a sublime PB of 9.86 earlier this year to record the fastest time of any European born athlete (equal with Portugal’s Francis Obikwelu).
Like Travyon Bromell, Vicaut had a disappointing Olympics in Rio, finishing 7th in the 100m. He and his French teammates were also unable to make it out of the 4x100m relay heats, an event which they won bronze in at London 2012.
Rio aside, the 24-year-old has the potential to do some damage over the 100m. His 100m PB suggests he could be a major player in the event once Usain Bolt departs. He’s a consistent sub-10 second runner and is also useful over 60 metres.
In truth he might be the outsider on this list, but if he builds on his performances over 100m there’s nothing to say that the king of sprinting won’t be a European.