Bolt Vs Gay: Something’s Gotta Give

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No Guts reader, A. Nartey get us ready for the Usain Bolt, Tyson Gay showdown

There is little doubt that Usain Bolt is the fastest man on the planet. After all, he destroyed the competition at the Beijing Olympics, breaking his old world record while setting a new one of 9.69s in the 100m with relative ease. He even slowed down at the end raising his hands in victory. He then went on to break the seemingly insurmountable 200m record set by Michael Johnson 13 years ago in Atlanta. Most people thought that record could not be broken anytime soon, but Bolt shattered it by finishing in 19.30s. To complete his triple gold and match the great Carl Lewis, he ran the 3rd leg of the 4x100m relay for Jamaica who took the gold in world record time. He is the only man to have won 3 gold medals and set 3 world records at a single Olympic games.

Last year, before the Beijing Olympics, Bolt was a little known (except maybe to avid sprint fans) Jamaican sprinter who had broken a world record in May. In fact, his Jamaican teammate, Asafa Powell was more world renowned as the fastest man on the planet. Powell however, was also infamous for never showing up during the big competitions.

Tyson Gay, the top American sprinter, was also better known having won 3 gold medals in the 100m, 200m and the 4X100m at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka, Japan. A feat accomplished by only five other athletes in history, Marita Koch, Carl Lewis, Michael Johnson, Maurice Greene and Allyson Felix.

All three had won against each other in the past but recently Bolt seemed to be the guy to beat. So Beijing was set to be the ultimate challenge featuring Bolt, Gay and Powell. Gay however suffered a hamstring injury in the 200m qualifiers at the Olympic trials in Eugene, Oregon. His injury would prevent him from training and competing prior to the Olympics and lead to a poor performance at the games in August. He failed to make it to the finals finishing fifth in the semi-finals. For those of us who are avid sprint fans, it was a disappointment and an anti-climatic finish to a race that we had been anticipating all year. Nevertheless, there was still a lot of hype about which Jamaican would win the 100m final, Powell or Bolt.

Bolt, as if to express his indignation at being compared to anyone else on the planet, gave us a performance that would have been the greatest of the games had Michael Phelps not won his 8 gold medals. In fact, it was arguably the greatest performance by a sprinter at an Olympic meet.

Fast forward to the present…..

On June 10 2009, Tyson Gay matched his personal best and American record of 9.77s in the 100m at the Golden Gala Roma in Rome, Italy. A few weeks before, in his first 200m outing at the Reebok Grand Prix in New York, he ran the 3rd fastest 200m ever and a personal best of 19.58s.

Meanwhile, the undisputed king of sprints, Usain Bolt runs the 200m at the Athletissima meet in Lausaunne with a time of 19.59 seconds. He also runs the 100m in 9.79s at Paris Golden League meet.

So here we are at the World Championships in Berlin with the two best sprinters in the world in absolute top form. Both have fastest times that are almost identical with Gay having just a slight edge. There is no doubt in my mind that Bolt is the one to beat and that it will be almost impossible to beat him. And that it will take a superhuman effort to do it. Even Gay admits that. But if there is anyone on the planet who can do it, it’s Tyson Gay and he has said that he intends to shock the world. We will see.

Like T.O says, “Get ya popcorn ready!” because something’s gotta give.

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