Tyson Gay Throws Down The Gauntlet At The Reebok Grand Prix

May 31, 2009

Tyson Gay returned to the track in spectacular fashion on Saturday, dazzling an enthusiastic New York City crowd with an explosive 200m performance at the 2009 Reebok Grand Prix. The race was Gay's first on U.S. soil since injuring his leg at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials prior to the Beijing Olympic Games.

The past year has been a rough one for Gay, as he failed to qualify for the Olympic 100m final due to the lingering effects of his injury at the Trials.

Meanwhile, Gay's chief rival -- Usain Bolt of Jamaica -- thrived in Beijing with two history-making runs in the 100m and 200m.

Since Beijing, the humble Gay has been somewhat overlooked because of his absence from several meets, as Gay declined to run at the Penn Relays, the Drake Relays, and the adidas Classic in Carson, California.

So, with Gay intent on running the 200m at Reebok on Saturday, much of the sprinting world was eager to see just what kind of form he would display after such a long hiatus.

Safe to say, he did not disappoint.

Against a loaded field that included Wallace Spearmon, Xavier Carter, and 400m specialist Jeremy Wariner, Gay exploded out of the blocks with a superb start. He then ran a great turn, quickly making up ground on the runners in the outer lanes. In the last 100 meters Gay powered down the stretch, easily coasting to victory in 19.58 seconds, the third-fastest 200m time in history.

Spearmon was the only other runner to go sub-20, finishing with a relatively distant second place time of 19.98 seconds. Carter (20.27) and Wariner (20.30) finished third and fourth respectively.

For a man who had run few competitive meets entering Saturday's race, Gay's time was certainly an eye-opener. Prior to his performance, many had assumed that Bolt was a lock to win the 100m/200m double at the upcoming Berlin World Championships. For many, the only question in those events was who would finish second.

However, in one day, the tables now may have reversed.

Putting up a time of this magnitude shows that Gay is back to form and capable of competing with Bolt even when Bolt is at his best. When one considers that Bolt himself may have had his training derailed somewhat due to a recent car accident, the hunter may now be Bolt, rather than Gay.

Here are the results and recaps of some other selected events:

Men's 100m

American Mike Rodgers pulled off an upset by narrowly winning the Men's 100m over a star-studded field. Among the names he defeated was none other than former Jamaican world record-holder Asafa Powell. The struggling Powell ended the race in seventh place, as he coasted near the finish in the final 10 meters. Rodgers' time was wind-aided.

1. Mike Rodgers (U.S.) 9.93
2. Travis Padgett (U.S.) 9.96
3. Steve Mullings (JAM) 9.98

Men's 400m

LaShawn Merritt continued his excellent season by overcoming a tough headwind to win the Men's 400m in 44.75 seconds. In the first 100 meters, Merritt trailed behind Kerron Clement, as Clement got off to an excellent start. However, Merritt took over during the second turn and pulled away from the field in the final 100 meters.

Merritt and his rival, Jeremy Wariner, once again did not compete against each other in the same race, as Wariner elected to run in the 200m. It will be interesting to see if they go head-to-head at the upcoming Prefontaine, or if they will simply wait until the U.S. World Championships Trials.

1. LaShawn Merritt (U.S.) 44.75
2. Rennie Quow (TNT) 44.89
3. Chris Brown (BAH) 45.04

Men's 1500m

Leonel Manzano made his move at the bell lap, as he chased down Legesse of Ethiopia and sprinted away from the field in the final 100 meters to win in a time of 3:34.14 seconds. American Alan Webb was a non-factor, finishing tenth overall.

1. Leonel Manzano (U.S.) 3:34.14M
2. Juan van Deventer (RSA) 3:34.30M
3. Henok Legesse (ETH) 3:34.42M

Women's 100m

Carmelita Jeter continued her outstanding undefeated 2009 season by prevailing over a loaded field in the Women's 100m.

In the first 40 meters, Jeter trailed several other runners in the field. However, during the latter half of the race she was able to sprint past her competitors and finish in a wind-aided time of 10.85 seconds. Olympic champion Veronica Campbell-Brown of Jamaica placed third.

1. Carmelita Jeter (U.S.) 10.85
2. Muna Lee (U.S.) 10.88
3. Veronica Campbell (JAM) 10.91

Women's 400m

In a race that featured the meet's most thrilling finish, Los Angeles star Allyson Felix came from behind in the final 40 meters to pass Shericka Williams and win the Women's 400m in a time of 50.50 seconds. Felix was able to prevail at the tape by maintaining her form down the stretch and staying relaxed.

1. Allyson Felix (U.S.) 50.50
2. Shericka Williams (JAM) 50.58
3. Novlene Williams-Mills (JAM) 51.11

Women's 1500m

Christin Wurth-Thomas dominated over the final two laps to win in 4:03.96 seconds, the fastest time thus far in 2009.

1. Christin Wurth-Thomas (U.S.) 4:03.96M
2. Malindi Elmore (CAN) 4:06.94
3. Amy Mortimer (U.S.) 4:07.19

Women's 5000m

Linet Masai pulled away from world record-holder Tirunesh Dibaba in the last 4 laps to win in a time of 14:35.39 seconds.

1. Linet Masai (KEN) 14:35.39A
2. Tirunesh Dibaba (ETH) 14:40.93A
3. Genzebe Dibaba (ETH) 15:00.79

By Mike Elliott
Staff Editor of TheDailySportsHerald.com

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