(Reuters) – A field overflowing with talent has all eyes on the men’s 100 metres as the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials kicks off on Friday.
At stake in Eugene, Oregon, is not only a spot on Team USA but a chance to claim some of the spotlight left behind by Jamaica’s Usain Bolt, who retired in 2017 with eight Olympic golds as the planet’s most famous and beloved sprinter.
World leader Trayvon Bromell, who ran a scorching 9.77 seconds this month, told Reuters he’s not sweating the competition – or his favourite status.
“I always had confidence in my ability, but I don’t really care too much about the placement,” said Bromell, 25, who suffered a devastating injury in Rio that once cast doubt on his career and kept him off the track for two years.
“I just do what I can and just go out there and compete.”
Standing in his way are an array of genuine challengers.
Five-times Olympic medallist Justin Gatlin, 39, is hoping to clinch an age-defying fourth Olympic berth after picking up silver at the 2019 world championships.
Reigning 200m world champion Noah Lyles hopes to peak in Eugene after failing to crack 10 seconds in the 100m this year, en route to what he hopes could be triple gold in Japan.
Five-times Diamond League winner Ronnie Baker told reporters he believed a time of 9.90 or faster would be needed to make the top three.
“It’s supposed to be warm, it’s a new stadium… but people are going to come out and run and people are going to run fast,” said the 27-year-old Baker.
Cravon Gillespie, 24, who plans to double up in the 100m and 200m at the trials, ran with Lyles in the 4x100m relay gold medal-winning team in Doha.
“I’m racing this person, I’m racing that person’ – it really doesn’t matter to me – at the end of the day, I’ve got to be the first one to the finish line,” said Gillespie.
Other contenders include 27-year-old Marvin Bracy, who posted an impressive 9.85 this month, world championship bronze medallist in the 400m Fred Kerley, and 2012 Olympian Isiah Young.
The U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials start on Friday.
(Reporting by Amy Tennery, additional reporting by Gene Cherry, editing by Ed Osmond)