Tokyo Olympics: who are the candidates to follow Usain Bolt and win the men’s 100 meters?

For the first time since 2004, Usain Bolt is not the winner of the Olympic gold medal in the men’s 100-meter dash.

Jamaica’s sprint king is now enjoying retirement and there are a slew of sprinters to win the title in Tokyo this summer.

Sportsmail assesses a few candidates who could win the final of the 100 meters on August 1.

Usain Bolt is now retired, so there’s a new winner of the 100m Olympic gold medal coming in Tokyo

People like Andre de Grasse (left) want to capture Bolt's crown at the Olympics on August 1

People like Andre de Grasse (left) want to capture Bolt’s crown at the Olympics on August 1

Andre de Grasse (Canada)

The favourite, Canadian Andre de Grasse, claimed Olympic bronze in Rio five years ago, behind Bolt and runner-up Justin Gatlin.

That year, he also won bronze in the 4x100m relay and silver in the 200m, becoming Canada’s first athlete to take medals in all three sprint events.

He has a close relationship with Bolt, the man he wants to succeed, and the legendary Jamaican has said he sees himself in De Grasse.

Speaking of the Canadian after the 100m race in Rio, Bolt said: “He’ll be good, he’ll run just like me, I mean, he’s very slow in the blocks, but when he gets going, he goes.”

With Bolt out of the way and 2016 silver medalist Gatlin now 39 years old, it’s time to get down to business at De Grasse.

De Grasse (left) from Canada is one of the favorites to win 100m gold in Tokyo this summer

De Grasse (left) from Canada is one of the favorites to win 100m gold in Tokyo this summer

Akani Simbine, South Africa

Simbine finished fifth in the 100m final in Rio, albeit three hundredths of a second from third, and holds the record in the 100m in his home country with a time of 9.89 seconds.

He ran the 100 meters in under 10 seconds this year, clocking in at 9.97 seconds in March. The 27-year-old is optimistic about his chances in Japan and has made it no secret that his goal is to win gold.

Simbine got off to an exciting start to 2020 and the Covid-19 pandemic started at what seemed the worst possible time.

“I was on fire, I felt like this was my year,” Simbine said CGTN Africa. “I’ve learned a lot since Rio. If I go to the Olympics and I win the gold medal in the 100 meters, no South African has ever done that and no African has ever done that.

“When I’m on the phone, I don’t just represent South Africa, I represent the entire continent and that’s very important.”

South Africa's Akani Simbine wants to improve his fifth place in Rio five years ago

South Africa’s Akani Simbine wants to improve his fifth place in Rio five years ago

Zharnel Hughes, Great Britain

British hopes could well rest on Zharnel Hughes’ shoulders should he decide to focus on the 100m. The 25-year-old could choose to focus solely on the 200m and a decision is likely to be made at the end of June at the British Championships.

“The training is going pretty well, no problems with lockdown or being inhibited to train. I’m very happy with where I am and how things are progressing,” Hughes told Eurosport.

“I’m getting stronger, ironing out what needs to be ironed out, I’m running pretty fast now – I think with three months to go it’s going to get much better in terms of technical executions. I will be in top form against Tokyo.’

Since Hughes is European 100m champion, it would be a shame if he left the Tokyo race alone. He is coached by Glen Mills, the man who worked with Bolt during his successes. If anyone knows how the requirements are managed on both races.

Zharnel Hughes is one of Britain's great hopes for medals for the Games in Japan

Zharnel Hughes is one of Britain’s great hopes for medals for the Games in Japan

Yoshihide Kiryu, Japan

The host nation’s biggest hope, 25-year-old Kiryu, became the first Japanese sprinter to run the 100m in under 10 seconds in 2017, a sign of his great potential.

Over the past few years, he has emerged as one of Asia’s standout forces in the 100m sprint, winning gold at the 2019 Asia Championships in Doha.

The pandemic turned what was about to be a huge year for Kiryu with a home Olympics and even by the time the Games finally arrive in July, he can be forgiven for taking a bit of a ‘what if’ perspective. has as, as expected, he competes without a full crowd behind him.

Yoshihide Kiryu (second from right) is the home favorite looking to cause a big stir in Tokyo

Yoshihide Kiryu (second from right) is the home favorite looking to cause a big stir in Tokyo

Noah Lyles, United States

Like British hopeful Hughes, Lyles could very well balance in the 100m and 200m in Tokyo as he seeks to end the US waiting for gold in the 100m sprint.

They have never played four Olympics without one and this year’s event in Tokyo is the fourth Games since Gatlin won gold in Athens.

Like Bolt, Lyles is a slower starter who comes into his own in the last 50 meters of a race.

Off the track, he’s a huge anime fan and even dyed his hair silver at the Doha World Championships as a tribute to his favorite characters. Anime is obviously huge in Japan, so Lyles could become an adopted home favorite when in Tokyo.

Noah Lyles could compete for the United States in both the 100m and 200m this summer

Noah Lyles could compete for the United States in both the 100m and 200m this summer

Trayvon Bromell, United States

Bromell has always been earmarked as a potential gold medal winner in the 100m, but if he fulfills that potential in Tokyo it will be an incredible story.

Bromell, who looked in impressive form on June 20 with a 9.80-second win in the US 100 meters, has had five tough years since the last Olympics. He injured his Achilles tendon in the 4x100m in Rio and has since required two surgeries to repair the damage.

He went almost two years without competition and then, in his comeback in 2019, he injured his thigh at about 70 meters. His coach Mike Ford has since admitted to NBC that he feared Bromell might stop racing altogether.

Trayvon Bromell seems to be in excellent contact after years of struggling with fitness issues

Trayvon Bromell seems to be in excellent contact after years of struggling with fitness issues

So when Bromell described his 9.80 second win as a “miracle feat” on Sunday, you really believe him.

“Anyone who knows me knows that I am a spiritual runner. I run for God. I run for Christ. He tells us in Scripture when things like this happen, ‘You won’t be surprised,’ so when I won, I was happy.”

There could be a much bigger chapter in store for him.

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