Lemaitre – The Great White Hope.
Because of this, and because I haven’t posted anything for a while I’d thought that I would take another look at the Fastest White Man issue as there has been a recent change in the prospects of a sub 10 white sprinter.
Not since Matthew Shirvington ran his 10.03s (which for me is the fastest a white man has ever run) has there been such a resurgence in interest a white man breaking the 10s barrier. The reason? A 19 year old Frenchman by the name of Christophe Lemaitre recently won the 100m at the European Athletics Junior Championships with a new European Junior record of 10.04s.
Only two men under 20 years old have ever run faster – Darrel Brown and Yohan Blake. Darrel Brown ran 10.01s aged 19, today aged 24, his PB is 9.99s. Making a Lemaitre sub 10s seem possible.
But when you consider that a 19 year old Brown (and Lemaitre) ran faster than Tyson Gay, Asafa Powell, Maurice Greene and Usain Bolt at the same age, yet his PB is only 9.99s (compared to 9.77s, 9.72s, 9.79s and 9.69s respectively), you realise that being fast at a certain age is not a reliable indicator of future ability.
For example, Tyson Gay is the fastest man of the year so far, with a time of 9.77s. Aged 19 the best he could run was 10.28s, but he has improved quite a bit since then.
The fastest 19 year old in the world is currently Yohan Blake of Jamaica. He’s a training partner of Usain Bolt and his PB is 9.93, which he ran last month.
The White Master
Perhaps this explains Collio’s sudden rise in form?
Even so all eyes will be on the ungainly runner come Berlin as he is the closest white man for over a decade to the magic 10s barrier. Like Bolt, who is 6’4″, Lemaitre is tall for a sprinter, standing 6’3″ and much was made of Bolt’s height at the Olympics last year as being the basis for his amazing speed. Lemaitre’s fans are hoping that he can use his height in a similar way to Bolt.
As a comparison, Gay is 5’11”, Powell is also 6’3″, Greene 5″9′, Bailey 6′, Lewis 6’3″ and Linford Christie was 6’2″, clearly there aren’t many short, top class sprinters.
Lemaitre is already No.5 on the white all time list, at least technically, but if you remove Woronin’s dubious time and those run at altitude, Lemaitre (whose nickname is Lemaitre blanc – The White Master) is the second fastest white man ever.
This wave of expectation is further aided by the fact that the white all time top ten has had another two entrants this summer. The apparently ageless Simone Collio, who ran a new PB of 10.06s, despite being in his 30th year, placing him 7th (or 3rd) on the all time list, and Ramil Guliyev who ran 10.08s to enter the list at 10 (or 6th).
The White Top
10 6 10.00 (+2.0) Marian Woronin (POL) 09.06.1984– Dubious 10.01A (0.0) Pietro Mennea (ITA) 04.09.1979– Altitude 10.03A (0.0) Nicolas Macrozonaris (CAN) 03.05.2003– Altitude
- 10.03 (-0.1) Matthew Shirvington (AUS) 17.09.1998
- 10.04 (0.20) Christophe Lemaitre (FRA) 24.07.2009
10.06A (+2.0) Johan Rossouw (RSA) 23.04.1988– Altitude
- 10.06 (+1.2) Simone Collio (ITA) 27.012009
- 10.06 (+1.9) Frank Emmelmann (GDR) 22.09.1985
- 10.07 (±0.0) Valeriy Borzov (UKR) 31.08.1972
- 10.08 (+1.3) Ramil Guliyev (AZE) 13.06.2009
Many see this as the summer a white man will belatedly break 10.00s. Although in reality any such feat is likely to be overshadowed by Gay Vs Bolt and most likely a new World Record. A white man breaking the 10.00s barrier and still not making it past the Semi’s isn’t likely to get much press.
EJCH Novi Sad 2009 – M-100m Final Christophe Lemaître 10.04 EJR
In all likelihood, Berlin, like Beijing last year, is not going to be anything special for white sprinters, but the prospects of a white sub 10.00s look better for Berlin next week than they have for a long time, add to that the Bolt Vs Gay showdown, possible new world records etc and it should be an interesting World Championships.