The Reuters global sports blog
Usain Bolt versus Tyson Gay is the sort of showdown that would grace any era of athletics and with a bit of luck the world championships in Berlin should give us two takes – in the 100 and 200 metres.
The match-up between the Jamaican and the American was supposed to be the highlight of the Beijing Olympics but it wasn’t meant to be. Bolt stole the show with three golds and three world records while Gay failed even to make the 100 final. Bolt was in such crowd-pleasing form that in truth you hardly noticed the other seven runners on the track.
Gay leads the world rankings in both events but Bolt is right behind and both are in great form.
Gay has every reason to be hopeful: he’s racing well, he’s the defending champion, he wants revenge and Bolt started the season late after a car crash.
Usain Bolt is undoubtedly the man of the moment in the world of athletics but American Tyson Gay has the fastest times over the 100 and 200 metres this season and goes into next month’s world championships as defending champion over both distances.
Unfortunately it looks as if he will also be going to Berlin at best short of training and at worst still carrying a groin injury that he says will eventually need surgery.
Retired U.S. sprinter Tyree Washington is finally receiving a gold medal — instead of losing one — because of the doping admissions of others.
Washington will be honored with a duplicate gold medal from the 2003 IAAF world championships 400 metres at this week’s U.S. championships in Eugene, Oregon, he told Reuters.
Jamaican 100 and 200 metres world record holder Usain Bolt’s talk of the running the 400 metres competitively, maybe even in the 2012 London Olympics, is not causing current Games champion LaShawn Merritt a lot of concern.
“I am not going to lose any sleep over it,” Merritt told Reuters. “If he moves up, he moves up. “If he does, he will have a lane and I will have a lane, and we are going to go at it,” the 22-year-old Merritt said.
It has always been an accepted fact that the dope cheats – much better financed and sometimes state sponsored – will always have the march on the testers.
The testers have sometimes therefore been portrayed as barely competent do-gooders blundering around in the dark, while the cheats blithely continue with their cheating.
Tommie Smith in retirement is relaxed and friendly. He speaks without rancour of the harsh years after he outraged white America by raising a black-gloved fist and bowing his head on the victory podium at the 1968 Olympics in protest at his country’s treatment of its blacks.
Yet at the age of 64, the ex-athlete still finds it hard to believe he emerged alive from the Mexico City Games.
On the eve of Barack Obama’s inauguration, Smith received a special award during an NBA game between the Boston Celtics and Phoenix Suns. He was asked if at any point during his silent
gesture he could have visualised the possibility of a black man as president.
“I didn’t think about what was possible or what wasn’t,” Smith replied. “I didn’t think getting off the podium was possible for me with all the death threats I had received.”
Smith’s paranoia was justified. In 1968 Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King were shot dead. American cities burned as the black ghettos revolted and students rioted on the streets throughout the western world. It was also the year Lyndon Johnson decided not to run for a second term as president because of mounting opposition to the Vietnam war.
Smith has written in chilling detail of the long moments he stood on the podium praying he would not be shot after winning the 200 metres final in world record time.
A task force delving into the disappointments of the Beijing Olympics urged the U.S. governing body to make sweeping changes to its selection policies for coaches and its management of athletes at Olympic Games and world championships.
But will the proposed restructuring be enough to ensure USATF chief executive Doug Logan achieves his goal of 30 medals at the 2012 London Olympics?