Tyson Gay: Olympic Gold Medal Is More Than Just a Dream for Star US Sprinter

Red ShannonFeatured ColumnistJune 21, 2012

EUGENE, OR - JUNE 29:  Tyson Gay crosses the line first to win the men's 100 meter final during day three of the U.S. Track and Field Olympic Trials at Hayward Field on June 29, 2008 in Eugene, Oregon.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Let's dream a little.

The USA team selection in the men's 100-meter race will be finalized on Sunday afternoon at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene, Oregon.

The American 100-meter dash record-holder Tyson Gay, has run only one competitive race in almost a year's time—a 10-seconds flat effort. Gay has already stated that his sole focus in this Olympics year will be the 100-meters.

For a guy who threw down his season debut just days ago, that's not much time to prepare.

It also means if he makes the U.S. team, there will be no "plan B" in the 200-meter race.

Gay's chief American rivals, based on time, are Justin Gatlin and Walter Dix, who have already produced a 9.87 and 9.85 (wind-aided) respectively.

With only three spots available and other hungry sprinters like Mike Rodgers, Ryan Bailey and Jeff Demps ready to pounce—and if Gay survives the qualifying rounds—he would likely be sitting on the proverbial bubble in the 100 finals.

Are you still dreaming with me?

Let's say Gay makes the U.S. 100-meter sprint team. Given the overall talent of the American sprint corps and the fast, tail-wind homestretch at Eugene's Hayward Field, this will have meant Gay probably produced a time somewhere between 9.80 and 9.90.

That wouldn't be too shabby for a guy coming off two surgical procedures within the year and precious little world-class competition under his belt in 2012.

Is this seeming less like a dream and more within the realm of possibility—maybe even reality?

Remember we're talking about Tyson Gay, who ran a wind-aided 9.68 on this same track in the 2008 trials, and who set his American record (9.69) in 2009 while nursing a painful groin injury.

If Gay finishes in the top three in Sunday's 100 finals, he'll have almost five weeks to continue to heal and prepare for his qualifying heats in London. He'll also be running on the freshest legs, and have the most singular focus of all the other top contenders.

Again, this is the second-fastest man ever. By early August, Gay may even be injury free. and let's not forget that he is the only runner to have beaten world record-holder Usain Bolt in a shoulder-to-shoulder race since before Beijing.

At 30 years of age, and with every piece of hardware imaginable already in his trophy case (except an Olympic medal), no one works harder or is more motivated than Tyson Gay.

And as long as we're still dreaming, what would a Tyson Gay Olympic gold mean for track and field in America, where the sport's relevance is often in question?

It would be a huge positive—and a huge chink in the armor of the Usain Bolt era, where predictability has somewhat tarnished the sprints.

Granted, there are a lot of "if"s for any of this to happen. But then, that's something every contender must deal with.

In that sense, it's a level playing field. And for Tyson Gay, who has seemingly been running uphill (with injuries) since the 2008 trials, a gold medal for the American seems less and less far-fetched.

Or do you think I'm still dreaming?

In a very short time, we'll know.

Rojofact: In Gay's recent debut, his 10.0 time run into a 1.5 meters-per-second headwind translates to a 9.91 in 0.0 wind. In the same meet, in another race, Jamaica's Yohan Blake ran a 9.90 with a slight tailwind. In a 0.0 wind, his time would have been 9.94.  (source: the Big Gold Book)