Olympic Track and Field: Too Many Sprinters Stand in Way of Gold for Tyson Gay

Nathan McCarterFeatured ColumnistJuly 23, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 13:  Tyson Gay of USA in action in the 100m during day one of the Aviva London Grand Prix at Crystal Palace on July 13, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

Tyson Gay seeks the 100-meter dash gold in his final Olympic Games. The problem is that the field is too talented to see him accomplish his dream.

Make no mistake about it: Gay is an extraordinary talent who can nab victory on any given day. However, the Olympics brings out the very best in athletes and the stars shine their brightest.

At the 2008 Olympic Games, Gay failed to even make the final. He was bested by fellow American Darvis Patton by .02 of a second for the final spot.

Since that time, Gay has run better. The veteran finished first with a 10.03 at a warm-up meet just over a week ago—a time he knows is not good enough.

Gay told Reuters that he believes a sprinter will need to run a sub-9.8 time to even medal.

So who will keep Gay out of gold and potentially off the podium altogether?

The list starts with the defending Olympic gold medalist and current world record holder: Usain Bolt.

The fastest man on the planet and a true superstar of the sport has performed his best under the most pressure. He is the only man in Olympic history to run 9.7 or better with a 9.69 gold-medal performance (a then-world record that he crushed a year later by running 9.58).

Bolt's teammate is another danger: Yohan Blake.

Blake currently holds the fastest time of 2012 at 9.75 and is the 2011 100-meter dash world champion. Blake may be the breakout star of the Olympics if he can continue his success and topple his teammate in a spectacular finale with the world watching.

And let's not count out one of Gay's longtime rivals: Asafa Powell.

His countrymen have surpassed him in recent years on the track and in popularity, but he is still a threat. Powell currently sits fourth in the Diamond League standings in the 100.

In 2008, an American kept Gay out of the final. In London, another American has the chance to keep Gay off the podium.

Justin Gatlin has returned after a four-year doping ban to rejoin the ranks of the elite sprinters.

Gatlin won the U.S. Olympic Trials with a time of 9.80. After sitting out for four years, Gatlin will have something to prove to the world at the Games. Thus far in 2012, Gatlin has already won two Diamond League meets and the aforementioned U.S. Trials.

How close is the 100 field? All of these men, Gay included, have won a Diamond League meet in 2012. It is truly anyone's race.

When they come off the blocks in a little over a week, the flashbulbs will flicker in amazement. Any of the five men can achieve their dream of Olympic Gold.

Gay knows he will need a personal best—currently 9.69—to have a shot at winning the race. Unfortunately for Gay, it will still unlikely be enough to claim gold.

Dreams are made at the Olympics, but they are also crushed.