As contrasting fortunes go, Usain Bolt and Tyson Gay's Olympic performances were polar opposites. While Bolt revelled in record-breaking history, Gay - the 100m and 200m world champion - literally limped away from his arch-rival's hogging of the Olympic gold. Ever since, athletics has eagerly anticipated the next Bolt-Gay face-off. The wait is over - the pair will burst out of the blocks in today's 100m heats as the 12th IAAF World Athletics Championships get under way in Berlin.
Bolt cannot wait to let battle commence. "I'm looking forward to the showdown with Tyson, especially after last season. I'm in really good shape and itching to run - I can't wait," said the 22-year-old triple Olympic champion. After Gay edged the Jamaican to the 200m gold in Osaka two years ago, Bolt's impatience dually evidences his ever-confident persona and the base desire to augment his Olympic medals haul with missing worlds wins: "I haven't won the worlds gold. I set a standard for myself and I have to live up to it," he confirmed.
After making record-breaking look easy in Beijing, Bolt faces a stiff test in bettering his own times in Germany this week, but he is not ruling it out. "You never know what's possible. I just want to run - I've come here to win," he said. Ahead of the season's glamour track fixture, Bolt has taken centre-stage in the Berlin pre-amble, playing up to local fans by pulling his trademark "Lightning Bolt" pose and flexing his muscles.
"The time to get focused is when the starter says, 'Take your marks'. Before then I'm just chilling and relaxing. "It's fun to see some of the other guys standing there really tense. We've all done this hundreds of times before - you should not be tense," added Bolt. Where Bolt is relaxed, Gay is one of those "tense" athletes who adopts a more traditional approach before races. He is also the fastest man in the world this year after clocking 9.77secs in Rome a month ago.
Gay is up for a fight, and Bolt's presence is sure to boost him to further heights. "I believe Usain is going to try to break the world record, and if he's going to do 9.6secs, I'm going to do it as well," said the American. Away from the Bolt-Gay duels, Berlin's first medals are up for grabs today in the men's shot put, 20km walk and women's 10,000m. The UAE's Ali Obaid Shirook gets his worlds campaign started with the 400m hurdles heats - tonight's penultimate race - while 200m specialist Omar Juma al Suffar runs on Tuesday.