Tyson Gay has always been on the outside looking in when it comes to the 100-meter finals, but a pair of American track legends think this could be the year he shocks the world and unseats Usain Bolt for the gold medal.
Both sprinter Michael Johnson and Edwin Moses weighed in on Gay’s chances in the final on Sunday, saying that this might be the year he holds off favorites like Bolt and Yohan Blake, Yahoo! Sports reported. Though if he does win, it will take a near-Herculean effort to beat Bolt, who set a world record in Beijing four years ago with a time of 9.69 seconds despite slowing down as he neared the finish line.
Gay didn’t have a chance to face off with Bolt that time. He was out with an injury, and leading into the 2012 London Olympics he has flown under the radar compared to the duo of Jamaican sprinters in Bolt and Blake, Yahoo! Sports points out.
Moses, a two-time Olympic gold medalist in the 400-meter hurdles, told Yahoo! Sports that he thinks a pair of Americans actually have a chance to take the 100-meter finals this time around:
I am expecting a strong challenge from the United States. Justin Gatlin is running well enough to win a medal, but I think Tyson Gay is going to be the one to watch. He is capable of making a tremendous start, has very good acceleration, beautiful technique and smooth transitions of speed. He is good enough to win.
“The only way to beat Bolt is to get way out in front of him from the blocks. If he does get a good start, that’s trouble for everyone because it will allow him to unwind more quickly. If Gay wants to beat him, he has to get out even quicker.
Gay ran a solid qualifying race on Saturday with a time of 10.08, but was still behind the fastest qualifiers. Though Bolt is the heavy favorite in the race–and one of the most-anticipated athletes in the Olympics–Johnson thinks he could be beaten.
“[Bolt] is the man from Beijing and we all know what he can do. But can he be beaten? Sure,” Johnson, the icon in the 200- and 400-meters, told Yahoo! Sports. “But it needs certain things to happen and if he is at his best, it will be difficult to see him getting beaten.
“But if he is just a little bit off, then Gay and some others have a chance. Most important, they need to believe. You don’t want to lose the race on the starting blocks. So much of it is mental and I think if Gay sees himself as a potential champion, then he is going to run very fast.”
Tyson Gay this year is among the top-five ranked runners in the world, a former world champion and the world’s second-fastest man–having run 9.69 seconds in 2009, second only to Bolt’s new record he set after the 2008 Olympics–but still, never having stood on a medal podium weighs on him, Reuters reported.
“There is a lot of pressure, I am not going to lie to you,” Gay, turns 30 four days after the 100-meter final, said at a news conference. “There would still be pressure if I did get a medal in ’08. There is a lot more now because I really feel the missing piece, in my heart, is getting an Olympic medal.”
Whether he wins or not, Gay has already beat the odds just by making it to London, Reuters reported. After having hip surgery in 2011, he didn’t even start training until March.