100m race wide open: Tyson Gay

The men’s 100m at the London Olympics is wide open and promises to be “spectacular”, according to the world’s second fastest man, Tyson Gay. Gay was speaking after outgunning US teammate Justin Gatlin, champion in the Athens Games in 2004, in the Diamond League meet in Paris on Friday, leaving it late to claim victory in 9.99 seconds on a wet track at Stade de France. The blue ribbon event of track and field promises to be a sizzler in the British capital, with a host of sprinters hitting form just as reigning Olympic double sprint champion Usain Bolt showed he was fallible.

US sprinter Tyson Gay competes at the IAAF Diamond League in Paris on Friday. Pic/AFP

Bolt was beaten twice in the Jamaican trials by training partner and current world 100m champion Yohan Blake, and has now withdrawn from the July 20 meet in Monaco after picking up what his coach Glen Mills labelled a “slight” injury. That intrigue can only add to what is building up to be one of the most competitive events in recent history. “There are a lot of people now in the 100m, it is open for the Games,” said Gay, who claimed golds in the 100 and 200m at the 2007 worlds in Osaka. “Bolt, Blake, Gatlin, my training partner Bledman. It will be spectacular!”

Although Gay, whose 9.69sec is second only to Bolt’s world record of 9.58, recorded a good reaction time in Friday’s race, he wilted badly in the opening 15 metres to give Gatlin and France’s Christophe Lemaitre a headstart. However, Gay proceeded to reel the duo in and flung himself at the finish line to nip Gatlin by four-hundredths of a second. “I tried to be patient,” Gay acknowledged. “I’m strong mentally and ready for challenges. Trials was a faster race but here a better one for me technically.”

Gay said his confidence was growing after a slow return from a hip injury that required surgery. “I feel pretty good, considering I came back and made the team. I was under a lot of stress, mentally and physically, early in the season, but I feel a lot better now,” he said.

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