Monday, 27 August 2007

Tyson Gay – one mission completed, more to come

Tyson Gay of the US celebrates winning the 100m final in Osaka(Getty Images)

Osaka, Japan - Tyson Gay had never won a medal in a major championship. But last night (26) in Nagai Stadium he arrived on the podium in style: with a gold in the 100 metres.

After Gay had positioned himself as the fastest sprinter in the world this season with a personal best of 9.84 seconds the American confirmed his standing by taking the sprint crown at the IAAF World Championships in Athletics in thrilling fassion. “I know that I have a bad start. That has always been the case, even in high-school”, the 25 year-old commented his race, in which he had been behind Asafa Powell for about 70 metres. But he then put in another gear and stormed away to win in 9.85 seconds. “I can’t yet believe that I am the World champion”, he stated in one of his first reactions.

By taking the 100m gold Gay continued an American dominance in the World Championships. Out of eleven titles the Americans have now won eight in this event. And there is more to come from Gay in Osaka. “I will now relax and have some massages before concentrating on the 200 metres.” The first round will take place on Tuesday morning. And it is again Gay who leads the world lists this year with 19.62 seconds – the second fastest ever behind Michael Johnson’s World record of 19.32. Additionally there is the 4x100m relay on the programme.

Gay had clocked both his personal bests at 100 and 200m (the 100m time being the second fastest ever run into a head win) in June at the US Championships in Indianapolis. And none has ever achieved a faster double PB at 100 and 200m. Additionally Gay had been unlucky when his 9.76 seconds from New York, which would have been one hundredth of a second quicker than the present World record by Asafa Powell, were not valid as a record due to a very slightly stronger tail wind than the allowed 2.0 m/s.

So the impressive times were there, but the medal was still missing. To make sure that nothing would go wrong this time he went back to States for training after he was not satisfied with a couple of races in Europe. “At the beginning of the season I had a lot of success and ran great times, but then I was feeling a bit tired and my results were no longer that good”, said Gay, who clocked 10.13 in bad weather in Sheffield and then 10.02 in London.

“I had ups and downs in my career. At the Olympic trials in 2004 I cramped and in 2005 I was fourth at the World Championships in Helsinki”, said Gay (each in the 200). But now he has completed at least a major part of his mission by taking the 100 m. Still Tyson Gay admits that he was not sure before yesterday if he would win the battle with Asafa Powell. “I was nervous and was asking myself if people would accept if I would not win – but my mother and my family all calmed me down before tonight”, said Gay, who got an extra boost from his coach on the morning before the race.

The situation with Lance Brauman being jailed for fraud for one year last November is well-known and made the success of Gay an even bigger story. “Lance phoned me at 11 am Osaka time on Sunday and told me: When I will wake up on Monday morning you will be the World Champion – believe me”, Gay recalled. It was a bit exaggerated since the time shift to Arkansas is not quite that big so that one can expect that Brauman was wide awake by the time of the final – especially in a jail. “He will be released earlier on 28 August”, said Gay. But Brauman will not be allowed to move freely for another month so that he will not be able to come to Osaka in time for the 200 m final on Thursday. “Jon Drummond has helped me a lot, because it would have been very difficult without any coaching.”

Asked about Asafa Powell and the big duel, Gay seemed almost to feel sorry to have beaten the Jamaican – a more unusual approach compared to recent American sprint winners. “We have long looked forward to this duel. And I think somehow we are both winners. Asafa has run a strong race. He is the World record holder while I am the fastest this year and now I am the World champion. Sometimes he will win and sometimes I will win. He has taken the bronze this time, but he could well come back with the gold next year in Beijing. We have a great rivalry which is good for the spectators. And I hope that we will produce some great races in the future.”

But obviously the gold from Osaka has put Gay in some sort of pole position for the Olympics next year. “I have done a big step forward in the direction of Beijing 2008 – and this will be the big goal,” Gay said, but he also said: “Beijing in another year. We have to wait and see what happens until then. The World record is a goal as well. But I want to do it step by step.” The next step will be the 200m in Osaka.

Jörg Wenig for the IAAF

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