It is incredible to think that for the first time since Athens 2004, a new Olympic 100m and 200m men’s champion will stand on top of the podium in Tokyo 2020.
Usain Bolt dominated the sport up until Rio 2016, picking up three Olympic titles at his last two Games (including the 4x100m relay) and two in Beijing - although a third was stripped from him when Jamaican relay team-mate Nesta Carter was retrospectively given a doping ban.
Looking back - and ahead to Japan - it is striking just how much the sport misses the great man. Over the last few years, track and field has searched for an athlete to fill the sizeable shoes, but no-one truly has.
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Christian Coleman had his chance, until the was banned for missing three drugs tests, meaning the 100m world champion will not be on the startline either. No one looks likely to come close to Bolt’s world records, but who are the contenders to win these blue ribband events in Tokyo? Honorable mentions to the likes of Xie Zhenye and Akani Simbine, but Eurosport has picked out a selection.

Noah Lyles

Noah Lyles

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The obvious contender, given he is the only current world champion in this list. The 23-year-old American is still young enough to be a genuine contender to become a global star and he truly started that path by winning the 200m at Doha 2019.
We need to set a quick caveat - no-one truly knows where every athlete’s form is at given the lack of international competition over the past year.
But Lyles has started the season in solid fashion with a fairly unspectacular 10.08 in the 100m and a much more impressive 19.90 in the 200m - though that is still some way short of his PB of 19.50 set two years ago. He has won before, and that experience could be crucial

Justin Gatlin

Justin Gatlin

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The old timer at 39 and a sprinter who divides opinion more than any other. Having served two drug bans, the American was roundly booed when he competed at the 2017 World Championships in London.
His experience could give him an edge over his opponents and he continues to run fast - already going sub-10 seconds with 9.98 at a meet in April.
Gatlin took part in the Ready Steady Tokyo test event recently, so he already has the edge over his rivals having experienced ‘bubble life’ in Japan. Do not rule him out.

Andre De Grasse

Andre De Grasse

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The Canadian was one of the fastest in the world last year with 9.97, though it was obviously a fairly small sample size given how badly the athletics calendar was affected by Covid-19 in 2020.
De Grasse was one of the most consistent performers at Rio 2016, coming away with 100m and relay bronze, as well as 200m silver. His record was almost identical at the worlds in 2019.
His personal best times are good but not sensational, however, this could be the chance for De Grasse to take centre stage.

Trayvon Bromell

Trayvon Bromell

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Not heard of this guy? He is only the fastest man in the world this year with 9.88 - having been second fastest last year with 9.90.
Bromell is a former teen star, a junior world record holder and the first junior to run sub-10 seconds in the 100m, but since Rio he has been badly hit by injuries and over the past few years he has been building up his comeback.
Given his form, Bromell might even be the favourite for gold, though these are still early days in the season of course. The 25-year-old is likely to specialise in the 100m and relay in Tokyo,

Zharnel Hughes

Zharnel Hughes

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We had to include a British athlete, right?! We nearly went for Adam Gemili, and he is certainly a contender, but Hughes is here on merit and has the benefit of being under the tutelage of Bolt’s former coach, Glen Mills.
Hughes is the European 100m champion and part of the British 4x100m relay which claimed silver in Doha.
He is arguably much stronger over 200m and he has looked in decent shape so far, clocking a wind assisted 19.93 in Miami last month. It might be too much to expect him to win gold, but he is definitely a medal contender.

Yoshihide Kiryu

Yoshihide Kiryu

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The romantic choice - what chances do we have of seeing a home champion in Tokyo? Not that bad, actually. Kiryu is the Asian Games champion and has claimed relay medals at the Olympics and World Championships.
Again, we are early in the season and athletes are only now starting to ramp up their competitive action, and Kiryu has so far posted a modest 10.30 in Japan last month.
But his PBs are far better - he can run 9.98 over 100m and with no overseas spectators able to attend Tokyo 2020, the entire stadium will be rooting for him and him alone.
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