ROME // Tyson Gay said he was unfazed by the threat Olympic champion Usain Bolt posed to his 100 and 200 metres titles at next month's world athletics championships. Gay said he was "100 per cent" confident of defending his crowns in Berlin after recovering from the hamstring injury that hampered his preparations for last year's Olympics, in which Jamaican sprint king Bolt set world records to win both events.
"I look at him like another competitor," Gay told a news conference today on the eve of the Golden Gala in Rome, where he goes head to head with Bolt's compatriot Asafa Powell, the former 100m world record holder. Gay replied "Yes" when asked if he thought he could keep his 100m crown even if Bolt repeated the record time of 9.69 he produced to win the Beijing Olympics. The American has started the season well, running a wind-assisted 9.75 seconds in the 100m at the US world championships trials and 19.58 in the 200m, the third fastest time ever.
But he conceded that Bolt looked impressive this week in running 19.59 for the 200 in Lausanne in torrential rain. "Considering the conditions ? it was raining, wind in his face, cold ? he looked pretty good," Gay said. Powell did not betray any nerves about taking on Bolt. "It's the same here. Usain is just another competitor," said Powell, who was part of Jamaica's Olympic winning relay team with Bolt.
"He ran 9.69, which showed we can go under 9.70. Once it was me when I ran 9.74. He set a mark for us. "We know it'll take faster than 9.69. We know what it takes to win." Powell said he was not back to his best despite winning the 100m in last week's Golden League meeting in Oslo because of the ankle injury he suffered in training over two months ago. "It's about 85 per cent better," he said. America's Damu Cherry will not be able to keep alive her hopes of landing the US$1 million (Dh3.6m) Golden League jackpot after winning the first two women's 100m hurdles.
She did not enter the Rome race initially and all the lanes have now been taken. Three women and two men still have a chance of taking the prize shared between the athletes who win their events at all six Golden League meetings. The men are Ethiopian middle distance great Kenenisa Bekele, racing in the 5000m, and the Finnish javelin world champion Tero Pitkamaki. The women are Sanya Richards of the United States in the 400m, Jamaica's Kerron Stewart, who will take on her compatriot and Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser in the 100m, and Russia's Yelena Isinbayeva in the pole vault.