His coach is due to leave the confines of the Texarkana Federal Correctional Institute tomorrow, but in Japan's second city yesterday Tyson Gay managed to find the key to get himself out of jail. Trailing from the blocks in the traditional blue riband event of the track and field World Championships, the men's 100m final, the 24-year-old American was in the slipstream of Asafa Powell until he found the acceleration that pulled him alongside the Jamaican at the 60m mark.
The application of the pressure was too much for Powell. As Gay started to forge ahead, the pre-race favourite stepped on the brakes, allowing Derrick Atkins of the Bahamas – his second cousin – to snatch the consolation of the silver medal. Gay crossed the line in 9.85sec, 0.08 sec shy of the world record time shared by Powell and the drug-offender Justin Gatlin. Atkins clocked 9.91sec, a Bahamian record, with Powell third in 9.96sec and Marlon Devonish, Britain's lone hope, sixth in 10.14sec.
For Powell, it was another disappointment to set alongside his failure to cope with the expectation of going into the 2004 Olympic final as favourite (and finishing fifth).
For Gay, it was a triumph against the odds of having spent the last nine months without the first hand influence of his coach. Since last November, Lance Brauman has been serving time after being found guilty on five counts relating to the fraudulent payment of athletes from student assistance programme funds. He is due for release tomorrow into a halfway house, where he will serve the remaining 30 days of his sentence.
"He called me this morning," Gay said. "He told me when he woke up he believed I'd be world champion and he told me to believe it too. I'd like to dedicate this medal to him. He's been through a lot."Reuse content