Tyson Gay's hopes of an Olympic sprint double ended suddenly and painfully on Saturday night as he fell to the track during his 200 metres quarter-final at the US trials in Eugene, Oregon. And there remain lingering doubts over his fitness to contest the shorter sprint in Beijing.
The world 100m and 200m champion pulled up 40 metres into the race with what looked like a serious injury to his left hamstring, and spectators watched in silence as he received treatment before leaving the track on a modified stretcher.
Gay's agent, Mark Wetmore, later described the problem as being "severe cramp". His personal physio, Benny Vaughn, added that the medical team would keep the problem under observation for 48 hours, but that it was likely he could still run the 100m and sprint relay at the Olympics.
The news will have been noted with interest by the man who finished second to Gay in last year's world 200m final, Usain Bolt. The 21-year-old Jamaican, who set a world 100m record of 9.72sec last month, has still to announce whether he will double up in Beijing or concentrate on his original target of winning the longer sprint – a target that now looks even more attainable.
Gay, who won his 100m final at the trials in 9.68sec, the fastest time ever recorded for the distance even if it was with the benefit of a tailwind of 4.1 metres per second which made it ineligible for record purposes, commented in a statement : "Before I went out on the track I felt a little tightness in my hamstring so I had a bad feeling. When I came off the curve, the first two steps were fine, and then I felt it, sort of a pull, about 40 metres in." Gay added that the cramp had occurred in the same place as it had during the 2004 Olympic trials, when it cost him a chance of competing in Greece.
Gay's mother, Daisy Gay Lowe, said her son was tearful after the incident. "He just needed some reassurance," she said. "I wanted to make sure he didn't get too down. It's going to work out. He's going to win the 100, and he's going to run in the 4x100m relay."
Allen Johnson, the 1996 Olympic 110m hurdles champion, missed his chance of going to Beijing when he dropped out midway through his opening heat because of a tendon injury.
l Craig Pickering ran fourth in the 100m final at a meeting in Madrid yesterday. The Briton clocked 10.23sec behind Churandy Martina of the Netherlands Antilles, who won in 10.03.Reuse content