Personal Best: 9.69
Best Major Championship Result: Gold (2007 World Championships)
My Betting Odds: 10:1
Tyson Gay, unfortunately, is just one of those athletes to which we must affix the dreaded label at the beginning or end of every sentence: "If he's healthy."
His talent is undeniable, as evidenced by a stellar 9.69 clocking, as well as a 9.71 silver-medal-winning performance within an injury-riddled 2009 season.
However, since his first major injury problem in 2008, he has struggled mightily to consistently replicate the health and form that saw him sweep the sprints in the 2007 World Championships.
If he's healthy (OK, there we go), he is the American to challenge Usain Bolt at the 100. At his best, he can gain an advantage on Bolt in the opening strides.
Moreover, even the fear of this scenario is one that can push Bolt to get hasty in the blocks as we saw in 2011. There, he infamously disqualified himself in the premier event of the Championships with an inexcusable false start.
Since 2008 and Beijing, it has never appeared that any human being could run with an in-form Bolt in the last 60 meters of a championship sprinting event. Gay, however, has the requisite confident, but not cocky, demeanor, the steely determination and the genuine belief he can do it.
Given a shaky Bolt start and a chance to pull off one of the greatest upsets in Olympic history, I give the former Razorback a fighting chance. And a fighter he has been his entire career, which has seen him grind his way to the top of US sprinting.
It will require the start of his life and ruthless execution to force Bolt into pressing and looking nothing like he has ever looked—human.
If Gay can methodically conquer the injury woes that destroyed his season last year and in the last Olympic year, it will be a joy to watch him line up vs. Bolt and the precocious Yohan Blake.
Other American Hopes: Walter Dix, Justin Gatlin
World Challengers: Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake, Asafa Powell, Richard Thompson