On his flying visit to Manchester last month, Tyson Gay did say that his biggest rival was not Usain Bolt but his own body. The second fastest man on the planet arrived in the north-west of England for the Great City Games street races complaining of a hip and adductor problem. Now, the American's hopes of regaining the world 100 metres and 200m titles in Daegu, South Korea in August have been ended by the latest in a long line of injuries that have afflicted him since he achieved the sprint double at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka.
There will be no head-to-head with Bolt in Daegu, following Gay's withdrawal from the 100m at the US Championships in Eugene.
"Tyson has scratched from the 100m," the athlete's agent, Mark Wetmore, announced. "He was unable to warm up due to a hip and adductor problem on his right side. As Tyson has mentioned, it has been bothering him for several months."
Wetmore said that the 28-year-old Kentuckian would also miss the 200m. With only the first three past the post to be selected for the United States team, Gay's only chance of selection for the World Championships will be as a member of the 4x100m relay squad. His priority, though, will be to overcome his latest injury setback in time for a clear run at the London Olympics next year. His participation must now be in serious doubt for the two IAAF Diamond League meetings in Britain this summer, the Aviva British Grand Prix in Birmingham on 9 July and the Aviva London Grand Prix at Crystal Palace on 5 and 6 August.
Before Gay's injury news, it had seemed unlikely that he would meet Bolt, the Jamaican who has won the 100m and 200m in world record times at the last two global championships (the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and the 2009 World Championships in Berlin), until this year's World Championships. The pair might not now be seen in action together until the Olympic 100m crown is on the line in London. Gay leads the world rankings in the 100m this year, having run 9.79sec in Clermont, Florida, three weeks ago. Bolt's best time for the distance so far in 2011 is 9.91sec.
In Gay's absence, the US title was won by the Olympic bronze medalistWalter Dix, in 9.93sec. Justin Gatlin, who returned to action last summer after a drugs suspension, finished second in 9.94sec, with Mike Rodgers third in 9.99sec.
Gay has undoubtedly been unlucky, but he has some way to go before he catches up with the ill-starred Paula Radcliffe. The British world marathon record holder is back in training, however, following the back problem that affected her on her return to action in the Bupa London 10,000m road race on 30 May. Yesterday she announced her comeback marathon date.
The 37-year-old intends to run in the BMW Berlin Marathon on 25 September, with the aim of achieving the Olympic qualifying time of 2hr 31min. Radcliffe, who holds the world record at 2:15:25, has not contested the 26.2 mile marathon distance since she finished fourth in New York in November 2009.
"The back is much improved and the sacroiliac inflammation has settled," she said. "I have had two trips to Loughborough for treatment and physio and am now back into normal training. It was better to have it flare up now rather than later."