Both Gay – owner of the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay world titles – and Bolt – who captured the same treble in sensational style at the Beijing Olympics – secured their places in the August World Champoinships in Berlin in their national trials at the weekend.
Gay, who has a bye as defending champion into both individual sprints, raced just once at the US championship in Eugene, but made it count with a wind-aided 9.75sec in the first round of the 100m.
“It lets me know my wheels are there,” said Gay who deemed his technical performance in his first 100m of the season “horrible”.
If he improves on that, particularly on his start, Gay said, Bolt’s world record of 9.69sec is within his power.
“Pretty much when I become more technically sound out of the blocks,” Gay said when asked when he might challenge the mark. “You have got to run 9.59 to beat him, that’s how I look at it, I have the mechanics. I have the coaching. It’s all there.”
Bolt shot back that he thought Gay, whose 2008 Olympic campaign was derailed by a hamstring injury suffered at the US trials, would have a hard time beating the record.
However it all pans out in Berlin, Gay said, “I’m looking forward to a fast race.”
While Gay chose to skip the 200m at Eugene, he had already sent a clear signal in that event with his 19.58 performance – the third-fastest in history – in New York in May.
The US trials also showcased some new faces, who will be hoping to help the Americans ease the memory of a sprint flop in Beijing. Not only did Jamaica’s men and women sweep the gold in the 100m and 200m, the United States botched both 4x100m relays.
Mike Rodgers, who was on the verge of giving up the sport two years ago, won the 100m. He had already made his presence felt this season with solid victories at the Reebok Grand Prix and Prefontaine Classic grand prix meeting.
Charles Clark in the 200m also punched his first World Championships ticket, as did 400m hurdler Johnny Dutch.
Dutch will be on a team that includes the Americans who swept the event in Beijing, gold medallist Angelo Taylor, silver medallist and defending world champion Kerron Clement and bronze medallist and current world leader Bershawn Jackson.
Veteran Shawn Crawford, the 2004 Olympic 200m champion, notched a convincing win in the 200 and insisted the issue in Berlin wouldn’t be revenge against Jamaica.
“We don’t have a revenge team,” he said. “We just have a USA team that’s going to compete at the best level we can. It’s not about revenge.
“It’s all about perfecting it, getting rid of those little mistakes we’re making – focusing, keeping your mind on the prize.”
Allyson Felix, the two-time defending world 200m champion who was relegated to silver in Beijing, admitted the sting of Olympic defeat was a motivator.
“I think we’re going to be really strong,” Felix said after winning the 200m US title. “I think everyone’s spirits are up. We’re looking to do well off of a difficult last year. I think everyone is really excited to get another chance to compete on a world stage.”
By Rebecca Bryan (AFP)