Shawn Crawford is one of the more colourful characters on the athletics circuit, but the man who glories in the nickname ‘Cheetah Man’ is hoping that he can upset the odds here and take the 200 metres title.
If that sounds an unlikely scenario given the current form of Usain Bolt and Tyson Gay, his track record proves he is always up for a challenge.
For the 31year old, 2004 Olympic 200m championÂ a former training partner of disgraced sprinter Justin Gatlin has previously raced a giraffe and a zebra in 2003.
The giraffe came off second best but the zebra overcame a slow start to beat the extrovert AmericanÂ however that did not deter him from believing he could have had the zebra’s stripes.
“Tell the zebra I coulda whooped him,” he told ESPN the Magazine.
Crawford, who has also stated he wants to run in war paint, having already worn a Phantom of the Opera mask at a meeting in Milan, has also shown that he is not all bluster and self_promotion.
Having failed to defend his title successfully at last year’s Olympics, finishing a distant fourth behind Bolt he found himself promoted ultimately to second as compatriot Wallace Spearmon and Netherlands Antilles Churandy Martina were disqualified.
Crawford, though, was plainly embarrassed and, in a sport not known for its humility, he handed the silver medal to MartinaÂ who would have been the first ever Olympic medallist from the island.
However, for Crawford it was important he did give Martina the medal.
“I felt like it was a burden off my shoulders,” said Crawford at the US trials in late June.
“I can’t do anything about that,” he said. “He (Martina) knows where my heart is.”
Crawford showed he was in top form at the trials winning the 200 metres in style even if he was deprived of facing Gay, who automatically qualified for the world championships as defending champion.
Crawford put the race down as one of the finest of his career as he timed a wind assisted 19.73 seconds.
“That’s the fastest my body has ever moved in its lifetime, so I’m happy with that,” said Crawford, whose personal best with a legal wind is 19.79.