Gay surges to 100 victory at nationals
EUGENE — Tyson Gay was going so fast through the finish line that he nearly ran out of track to apply the brakes, sidestepping cameramen to avoid a nasty collision.
That kind of speed was necessary to catch the kid in the lane next to him.
Gay fell behind early only to make up ground in a hurry on Baylor standout Trayvon Bromell to win the 100 meters at the U.S. championships Friday night.
"Man, that kid is tough," Gay said about the 19-year-old Bromell. "He got out good and I had one of those 10-years-of-experience, dig-down moments."
The 32-year-old Gay finished in 9.87 seconds to secure a spot at the world championships in Beijing this summer. Michael Rodgers was third to make the world team along with Justin Gatlin, who didn't compete because he had an automatic bye courtesy of his Diamond League title.
In the women's 100, Tori Bowie used a late surge to sneak by English Gardner, taking the crown in 10.81. Oregon star Jasmine Todd wound up third.
Gay hasn't competed at worlds since 2009. He missed the 2011 competition with a hip injury and qualified in 2013, but withdrew after failing a drug test that resulted in a one-year suspension.
He returned last summer and has been making changes ever since, switching coaches and coasts as he moved from Florida to California. He wears his hair longer and has a new sponsor in Nike.
The one thing he can't change? His perception after his doping suspension.
"I've got a second chance to make up for the mistake I made," Gay said. "I'm here to do that."
On his victory lap, Gay received plenty of gifts. Someone gave him a teddy bear. Another fan handed him a book. Even more wished him well.
"That meant a lot to me," Gay said.
Not as much as beating Bromell, who sensed Gay rapidly approaching, but couldn't hold him off.
"I knew what kind of competitors I had in the race," said Bromell, who's putting off a decision whether he will turn pro or return to Baylor for his junior season. "I came out with second so I was happy."
Bromell's got quite a medical history. He broke one of his knees goofing around with a friend in eighth grade. Broke the other one in ninth grade playing basketball. Then, in 10th grade, he fractured his hip while running the 100.
"Didn't have breakout season until my senior year," he explained.
He keeps getting better and better. His Baylor coach, Todd Harbour, considers him in the same class at this age as past Bears greats such as Jeremy Wariner and Michael Johnson.
"Trayvon's perspective is amazing — how he handles success, how he handles defeat, how he handles setbacks," Harbour said. "He keeps it all level."
Next up, trying to catch up to world record-holder Usain Bolt, who suddenly looks mortal. Bolt was going to run the 100 at the Jamaican trials earlier this week to work on his technique, but changed his mind.
"Look, you can never count a person like Bolt," three-time 100 world champ Maurice Greene said. "All it takes is for Bolt to get a little work in and who knows what he's going to come out and do?"
Like Gay, Bowie needed a late surge to win.
"I wanted to come out here and execute my start, because I know that's my weakness," Bowie said. "Once I executed the start, the rest of the race takes care of itself. It seemed that's kind of what happened today."
Other things to know from Friday's competition:
BIG SURPRISE: Sanya Richards-Ross missed out on qualifying for the 400 final. She finished fifth in her heat during the semis. Richards-Ross could always make the team as part of the relay. Allyson Felix won her heat to advance.
ON THE MEND: Hurdler Lolo Jones actually feels good, even if she's a little behind in her training. She had labrum shoulder surgery in November and suffered two hamstring tears in April. Jones advanced out of the preliminary round.
FAMILIAR NAME: His father was a Pro Bowl quarterback known for his scrambling ability. Randall Cunningham II simply uses his legs for clearing the bar, capturing the junior national high jump title Friday at 7 feet, 2½ inches. Being the son of the longtime QB comes with built-in pressure, though, because, "people always compare me to my father," the son said. "But I've been a Cunningham my whole life. So, I'm used to it." His sister, Vashti, will compete in the women's junior high jump today.
HARDEE PERFORMANCE: Trey Hardee ran away with the decathlon title, especially with Ashton Eaton sitting the event out since he had an automatic bye to worlds. Hardee finished with 8,725 points, 461 more than Jeremy Taiwo.