To celebrate 100 days to go until the Tokyo 2020 Games take place in 2021, we ask perhaps the most burning question of them all... who will take Usain Bolt's Olympic 100m crown? From Noah Lyles to Andre De Grasse, here are the main contenders for the Olympic blue ribbon event.
For the first time since Athens 2004, the world will see a new Olympic 100m champion. Beijing 2008 marked the beginning of an age of athletic dominance, as Usain Bolt burst onto the scene with a new world record of 9.69 seconds. Since that moment onwards, no-one came close to challenging for his titles as the Jamaican athlete continued to lower his own world record to 9.58 seconds while amassing an enviable number of gold medals to his collection.
But a year after his triumphs at Rio 2016 – where he added a third consecutive 100m/200m double to his trophy cabinet – the great man finally hung up his running spikes.
Now, with Tokyo 2020 just 100 days away, one question is on everyone's lips: Who will be crowned the new Olympic 100m champ?
Jamaica's Usain Bolt wins gold for the third time in a row in the men's 100m, defeating 2004 Olympic champion Justin Gatlin from the USA.
Noah Lyles, USA
- Age: 23
- PB: 9.86
2019 Getty Images
The United States sprint sensation, Noah Lyles is one of the hottest prospects in the world of athletics today. Perhaps better known for his speed over 200m - Lyles is the reigning 200m World Champion - Lyles is no slouch over the shorter distance, having set a personal best of 9.86 in May 2019.
A self-described "artist" and "rapper", Lyles is a man of many talents. But perhaps the greatest of those gifts will see him installed as the number one favourite to win the 100m in Tokyo this summer.
He has the speed, the personality and the charm to be the next big sprinter in athletics history, and he is trying to be great, not just good. Tokyo is the beginning of something special.
Andre de Grasse, Canada
PB: 9.9 seconds
2016 Getty Images
Next on the list is Lyles' northern neighbour and Team Canada's very own speed master, Andre de Grasse. A bronze medallist at the 2019 World Championships in Doha, de Grasse holds a personal best of 9.9 seconds, a mere four tenths of a second slower than the mark set by Lyles.
Andre de Grasse has a strong Olympic pedigree, having become the only Canadian sprinter to win three medals in a single Games (200m silver, 100m bronze and 4x100m bronze at Rio 2016). But the sprint star will be looking to go one better in Tokyo and take his place on the top step of the podium.
Akani Simbine, South Africa
PB: 9.89 seconds
2018 Getty Images
South Africa's Akani Simbine was in blazing fast form before the Olympics were postponed last year. On 14 March 2020, at the Athletics Gauteng North Championships in Pretoria, Simbine sped home in a then world leading time of 9.91 seconds.
An African and Commonwealth Games champion, Simbine is no novice when it comes to international competition. And this experience may play into his lands as he lines up on the starting line at Tokyo 2020.
XIE Zhenye, People's Republic of China
PB: 9.97 seconds
2019 Getty Images
The hopes of the world's most populous nation rely on the performance of Xie Zhenye, the current 200m Asian record holder and second-fastest Chinese 100m sprinter in history. Xie is a veteran of two Olympics, having competed at both London 2012 and Rio 2016. He also won the 200m gold medal at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games in Singapore.
Last year, in an exclusive interview with Tokyo 2020, Xie expressed his love for the 100m, saying: “I might be more competitive in the 200m because of my previous results. My 200m results have been relatively good. But I love the 100m more, because, after all, the 100m is the jewel of track and field. Everyone loves the 100m.”
Fans from the People's Republic of China will be waiting with bated breath to see what Xie can achieve when the world's greatest sporting event takes place this summer.
Ronnie Baker, USA
2018 Getty Images
This year's fastest man may not be the name many people expected, with the USA's Ronnie Baker leading the way with a time of 9.94 set in March, 2021. Having gone through a difficult time in 2019, with injuries preventing him from racing until July of that year, Baker seems to be back to his blisteringly fast best just in time for the Olympic Games.
In order to navigate his way to Tokyo, the athlete from Louisville, Kentucky will need to save his best for the rescheduled 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Track and Field, that will take place between 10 and 27 June 2021.
KIRYU Yoshihide, Japan
2019 Getty Images
Leading the charge for the home nation this summer will be Japanese record holder Kiryū Yoshihide. The 25-year-old sprinter from Shiga Prefecture set his best ever time back in 2017, but has since gone on to win 100m gold at the 2019 Asian Championships (10.10 seconds) as well as a bronze medal in the 4x100m final at the 2019 World Championships in Doha.
At the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Kiryū was part of the team that won silver for Japan in the 4x100m relay event. But if individual honours are to follow in Tokyo, he will more than likely need to shave tenths of a second off of his own PB to be crowned the new Usain Bolt.