It says something when you are clocked at 8.88sec for 100m and someone asks you whether your performance was "tinged with disappointment". But, then, every time Tyson Gay steps on to a running track his high-speed deeds are measured against those of Usain Bolt.
The fact that the man from Lexington, Kentucky, was timed at under 9 sec for the final 100 section of the 150m feature race at the Great City Games in the centre of Manchester yesterday was an irrelevance in the grander scheme of things. Gay himself was uncertain about the value of a clocking made while already in racing mode, without the handicap of a start from scratch. "I don't know what that equates to," he said, "but it sounds pretty fast."
From start to finish of the rarely run 150m on the specially built sprint strip on Deansgate, the 28-year-old American was pretty fast, winning by 0.47sec from his compatriot Darvis Patton in 14.51sec. He was not fast enough, however, to beat the world best figures of 14.35sec that Bolt set in Manchester two years ago.
Still, it was an impressive performance by Gay, not least because he has been hampered by a hip problem at the start of a season in which he intends to build on the 100m victory he claimed against a less than fully fit Bolt in Stockholm last August. The pair are not scheduled to meet this summer until the World Championships at Daegu in August.
Jessica Ennis is due to defend her heptathlon world title in South Korea and the Sheffield athlete made an encouraging return to action in the Manchester street event. The 25-year-old, who cut short her indoor season because of an ankle tendon injury, made a sluggish start in the 100m hurdles but finished strongly as Danielle Carruthers sped to a clear victory in 12.73sec.
Ennis dug deep to finish within 0.01sec of runner-up Ginnie Crawford – another world-class hurdles specialist from the US – pipping European indoor silver medallist Tiffany Ofili for third place, both Britons being credited with 12.88sec. "I'm pleased with that time," said Ennis, who also competed in the women's 150m yesterday, finishing runner-up to Abi Oyepitan in 17.40sec
The Olympic 400m champion Christine Ohuruogu took no risks on the rain-soaked track in the 200m, having felt a pre-race re-occurrence of the quadriceps problem that forced her to withdraw a meeting in Jamaica last weekend. The Londoner trotted home a distant fourth and last in 24.48sec while world 200m champion Allyson Felix of the USA blasted to victory in 22.12sec. "I just wanted to finish the race in one piece," Ohuruogu said.
The day started with a resounding victory for Preston Harrier Helen Clitheroe in the Great Manchester Run 10km road race. The newly crowned European indoor 3,000m champion led from start to finish, winning in 31min 45sec, a personal best by 30sec. Haile Gebrselassie won the men's race in 28:10, finishing 11sec clear of Chris Thompson.