Tyson Gay was triple World Champion in 2007 winning the 100/200 and running on the gold medal 4x1 relay. Last year in New York he had his first set back on his way to Beijing - running second to Usain Bolt's first WR of the season (9.72) with his early season 9.85. Gay looked to have rebounded nicely from the loss at the Olympic Trials as he blazed an American Record 9.77, then the fastest ever 100 with a windy 9.68. But then he suffered his second, and most severe set back of the season when he pulled up in his first round of the 200 meters. After spending his summer trying to rehab, he only managed to take to the blocks for the first time in his first round heat of the 100 in Beijing, and found himself eliminated in his semi. Then got to watch Usain Bolt become triple Olympic Champion with three WR's in Beijing.
Since then Tyson has been back in training. So much so that the two races we've seen from him prior to today were both 400 meter races running 46.34 and 45.57. So there was much anticipation of his race today - and Tyson did not disappoint his fans. Running his signature blazing bend, he came off the turn with a lead that he extended in the straight. On his way to a personal best 19.58 - the third fastest time ever run! Only Bolt's WR 19.30 on the super fast Beijing track and Michael Johnson's 19.32 on the hyper engineered track of Atlanta are faster in history. Did I mention it was Tyson's FIRST race of the season? No one has ever debuted as fast, nor run as fast this early in the season - only in the Games themselves has anyone traveled faster! Wallace Spearmon ran 19.98 in second, which would have been the world leader had Tyson not been in the race. But all Spearmon got was the best seat in the house in the #3 race ever - and the best outside the Olympics!
As stunningly outstanding Tyson's Gay's debut was, former WR holder Asafa Powell was equally stunning in the 100 - stunning as in everyone was stunned at the level of his defeat. Yes defeat. Something that Powell is used to in Majors, but rarely happens in one off events. Fifth in the '04 Games, third in the '07 Worlds, and fifth once again in the '08 Games, Powell has only a handful of losses outside of Majors. And when he has lost he has taken second and only to the likes of Justin Gatlin and Usain Bolt - until today. Today Powell finished in SEVENTH, and looked to be healthy in the process. But as in past majors, while Powell got out well, he did not bury the field. And, as in past majors seemed to once again crack under the pressure of running in traffic as at 60 meters a look of defeat entered his face, and at 80 meters he simply didn't look competitive. The result was a stunning seventh place finish as the race was won by unheralded Mike Rogers in 9.93 (+3.1)! Powell was well back in 10.10 finishing only ahead of MVP club mates Michael Frater and Nesta Carter. Powell has been known to rebound from his defeats in Majors, typically returning to the track to run a 9.7x race. We will see how he responds to this set back.
Also suffering a stunning defeat was Tirunesh Dibaba. Dibaba has practically owned the 5000 meters in recent years, and looked to be a rather certain winner in New York. But during a mid race surge Linet Masai (KEN) built up a lead over Dibaba that she refused to surrender late in the race as she held on for the win in a world leading 14:35.39! Dibaba ran well clocking a respectable 14:40.93, but on this day the Masai played the roll of spoiler and showed that she may be a force to deal with this year.
Overshadowed by these events was:
• Kristen Wurth Thomas' world leading 4:03.96 in the 1500 meters.
• Carmelita Jeter's mid race surge to win a close 100 in 10.85w.
• Anna Willard's upset win in the 800 in a world leading 1:59.29.
• Lauryn Williams 22.36 world leader in the 200.
• Leonel Manzano's gutsy last 150 meters to win the 1500 in 3:34.15.
• And a near world leading 13.12 win the 110H by Terrence Trammell.
This was definitely the best meet in the US so far this year. And will be followed up by the always quality Prefontaine Classic next week.
Full results can be found here.