Tyson Gay

Tyson Gay (born August 9, 1982) is an American track and field sprinter. His primary events are the 100 meters and 200 meters. His personal bests establish him as the second fastest athlete in the 100 meter dash and the third fastest athlete in the history of the 200 meter dash, with times of 9.71 (which is a United States record[1]) and 19.58 seconds respectively.

Gay has won numerous medals in major international competitions, highlighted by his gold medal sweep of the 100 m, 200 m and 4 x 100 meters relay at the 2007 Osaka World Championships. This made Gay the 200 m World Championships record holder and only the second sprinter to win all three events at the same World Championships, after Maurice Greene. At the 2008 Olympic Trials Gay established the American record in the 100 m with a time of 9.77 s, and also ran the second fastest time ever recorded in the 100 m (9.68 s) which was aided by a non-legal wind of 4.1 meters per second (the allowable for official IAAF record purposes being 2.0 m/s).
Tyson Gay

Gay at the 2007 USA Track and Field Championships in Indianapolis

Nationality: American
Distance(s): 100 meters200 meters
Date of birth: August 9, 1982 (age 27)
Place of birth: Lexington, Kentucky
Residence: Clermont, Florida
Height: 5 feet 11 inches (1.8 m)
Weight: 165 pounds (75 kg)
Medal record
Men's athletics
Competitor for  United States
World Championships
Gold 2007 Osaka 100 m
Gold 2007 Osaka 200 m
Gold 2007 Osaka 4x100 m relay
Silver 2009 Berlin 100 m
World Athletics Final
Gold 2005 Monaco 200 m
Bronze 2006 Stuttgart 100 m
Gold 2006 Stuttgart 200 m

At the same meet, Gay suffered a severe hamstring injury in the 200 m event. The injury persisted and this contributed to his failure to win a single medal at the Beijing Olympics. As a participant in the US Anti-Doping Agency's "Project Believe" program, Gay is regularly tested to ensure that his system is clean of performance-enhancing drugs.



[edit]Early life

Born on August 9, 1982 in LexingtonKentucky, Tyson Gay is the only son of Daisy Gay and Greg Mitchell.[2][3] Athletic prowess was part of family life; Gay's grandmother ran for Eastern Kentucky University and his mother Daisy also competed in her youth, though she was pregnant with her first child by her early teens.[4] Gay's older sister, Tiffany, was a keen sprinter and had a successful high school career. Tiffany and Tyson Gay, encouraged by their mother, raced at every opportunity, training hard at school and on the hills in their neighborhood.[5] There was strong competition between the two, and Gay later said that his sister's quick reaction time inspired him to improve.[6]

[edit]Amateur career

Although Gay tended to be a slow starter on the track,[7] he worked hard to improve and broke the Lafayette High School stadium record for the 200 meters.[5] Under the tutelage of Ken Northington, a former 100 yard dash state champion, Gay began working on his technique and rhythm.[8] By his senior year he was a more composed athlete and he focused on the 100 meters, winning the state championship in the event and setting a new championship record of 10.60 s.[4][3] In spite of this, his mother noted that he was not fully applying himself and was taking his abilities for granted. Gay was also not a studious child and he failed to achieve the grades needed to enter a Division I sports college.[5] However, the Kentucky High School State Championships in June 2001 demonstrated his abilities: he won gold in the 100 m, setting a new personal best and state record with 10.46 s, a record which stands to this day.[9] In the 200 m he took silver with another new personal best of 21.23 s.[10] At a 2001 track event, Gay met trainer Lance Brauman and the college coach convinced him to attend Barton County Community College.[7][4] It was here that Gay first met Jamaican sprinter Veronica Campbell-Brown, and the two formed a close bond, becoming training partners.[5]

The move to the college in Great BendKansas, marked further progression for Gay: in 2002 his 100 m and 200 m times climbed higher to 10.08 s and 20.21 s respectively, albeit with wind assistance.[11] He improved upon his legal personal bests too, recording a 100 m run of 10.27 s and 20.88 s in the 200 m.[12] He also continued to outstrip the competition, winning the 100 m at the junior-college (JUCO) meeting.[7] Returning to the JUCO event the following year, with the wind in his favour, Gay took bronze in the 100 m with 10.01 s and silver in the 200 m with 20.31 s.[13] Injuries upset the rest of 2003 for Gay, and his coach Brauman moved on to work as the sprint coach at the University of Arkansas.[7] Gay decided to follow his tutor and he was keen to join the university's highly successful amateur track and field program; Arkansas had dominated National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Indoor and Outdoor competitions for the previous ten years.[8]

[edit]National debut

Gay chose to study sociology and marketing,[8] and the university environment gave the 22-year-old sprinter his first opportunity to compete in NCAA events. In the NCAA Men's Indoor Track and Field Championship in March, Gay finished fourth in the 60 meters, with 6.63 s, and fifth in the closely fought 200 m with a time of 20.58 s (he missed out on second place by only two hundredths of a second).[14][15] The NCAA Men's Outdoor Track and Field Championship in June proved far more fruitful, however, as Gay became Arkansas' first 100 m NCAA champion, setting a school record of 10.06 s.[16][8] Furthermore, his efforts in the event helped the Arkansas athletic team win the NCAA Championship.[4]

The results of Gay's first 2004 Olympic Trials confirmed his status as a rising contender in the 100 m and 200 m events. Although he did not reach the final of either event, he reached the semis of the highly competitive 100 m and posted a 200 m personal best of 20.07 s in the qualifying stages.[17][18] A hamstring injury due to dehydration prevented Gay from competing in the 200 m final, but he did not see the trials as a missed opportunity, rather a springboard for future events: "I was really focused upon the team, had a great shot, but it was a learning experience—how to take care of my body."[8] The end of year Track and Field News rankings for United States sprinters showed him to be the eighth fastest 100 m runner and the fourth fastest sprinter over 200 m that year—indicative of his potential, he was younger than all those ranked ahead of him.[19]

In Gay's final year as an amateur athlete he started well, setting a personal best and school record of 6.55 s in the 60 m at the 2005 Championship Series.[20] He helped the University team to another NCAA outdoor victory, setting a new personal best of 19.93 s in the 200 m qualifiers and placing third in the finals.[8] Training partner and friend Wallace Spearmon took first place with 19.91 s—his time and Gay's 19.93 s were the second and third-fastest 200 m times in the world that year.[21][22] The pair teamed up for the 4 x 100 m relay, along with Michael Grant and Omar Brown, and won with an Arkansas-record-breaking time of 38.49 s.[23][24] With the NCAA Championships behind him, in June 2005 Gay decided to become a professional athlete, setting his sights on a place in the US 200 m team for the Helsinki World Championships.[6]

[edit]Professional career

[edit]Debut season

Gay after winning the 100 m at the Osaka World Championships.

Upon turning professional, Gay entered the USA Outdoor Championships, where he took silver in the 200 m with 20.06 s.[25][26] He was selected for the 200 m at the 2005 World Championships in Athletics in Helsinki and finished fourth, beaten by three of his compatriots (Justin Gatlin, Spearmon and John Capel). This completed the unprecedented feat of a single nation taking the top four positions at the championship event. Gay formed part of the 4 x 100 m relay team but a poor baton exchange between Mardy Scales and Leonard Scott resulted in disqualification.[27] Later in the month, Gay briefly turned his attentions to the 100 m and scored a season's best of 10.08 s at the Rieti Grand Prix.[28]

He ended the 2005 season on a positive note by winning the gold medal in the 200 m at the World Athletics Final, his first major championship title. His time of 19.96 s was his second fastest that year and fourth fastest of any sprinter that season.[22] Although he stated that the quality of the competition and memories of Helsinki had made him nervous beforehand, he went on to beat all three American sprinters he had lost to in the World Championships, becoming the first athlete to beat Gatlin over 200 m that season.[29]It was not only his rival sprinters that would cause future difficulties, however, as Gay's coach Brauman was indicted for various crimes relating to his time at Barton College and Arkansas University. He had helped athletes gain funds and credits that they were not entitled to.[7] Following Gay's testimony, the courts ruled that Brauman was guilty and, as a result, Arkansas' two NCAA titles and all of Gay's college track times were annulled. None of the athletes were charged with any wrongdoing.[4] Although he was imprisoned for 10 months, Brauman continued to train Gay, periodically updating him with coaching routines and techniques.[30]

[edit]Double event sprinter

The 2006 athletics season saw Gay rise to the top of the rankings for the first time and become a legitimate contender in the 100 m. He became the 2006 US Outdoor Champion in unfortunate circumstances: Gay originally finished second in 10.07 s with a strong headwind, but winner Gatlin was later disqualified for steroid abuse.[31] Gay significantly improved upon his previous 200 m personal best by over two-tenths of a second at the IAAF Grand Prix in Lausanne. However, his time of 19.70 s was not enough to beat newcomer Xavier Carter who ran the second fastest time ever with 19.63 s.[32][33] Improvements in the 100 m followed, as he won the Rethymno track meet and set another personal best with 9.88 s.[34] Gay scored another sub-10 second 100 m at the StockholmGrand Prix, finishing second to Asafa Powell with a 9.97 s,[35] and beating Michael Johnson's British all-comers 200 m record with a 19.84 s win in London.[36] Gay continued to improve at the 100 m, revising his personal best to 9.84 s at the Zürich Golden Leaguemeet, but it was not enough to beat Powell, who equaled his own world record of 9.77 s.[37]

Gay being interviewed in Osaka.

Gay's 200 m performance at the 2006 IAAF World Athletics Final in Stuttgart was the culmination of a highly successful year. He became the World Athletics Final champion with another improved personal best of 19.68 s, making him the joint third-fastest 200 m sprinter with Namibian Frankie Fredericks.[38] Gay was pleased that Fredericks was on site to see his best equaled: "To run that time in front of Frankie is a privilege. He's someone I admire a great deal both as an athlete and as a man."[39] Gay also won a bronze medal in the 100 m, finishing behind Powell and Scott. However, Gay proved himself over 100 m at the 2006 IAAF World Cup, taking gold with a 9.88 s run.[40] At the end of the season, with Gatlin banned from competition, Gay dominated the Track and Field News US 2006 list, having run six of the seven fastest 100 m, with Scott in third, and four of the top six 200 m times (behind Carter and Spearmon).[41] Furthermore, he was the second fastest 100 m runner in the world that year, second only to world record holder Powell.[42] Having proven himself to be adept at both 100 and 200 m, Gay reflected upon his development as a sprinter:

"It's kind of hard for me to choose which one's my favorite. Some people say I'm a better 200 meter runner than a 100 runner. [But] you get that label as 'second-fastest man' or 'the fastest man in the world'. I think that's why I like the 100 more."[8]

—Tyson Gay, Lexington Herald-Leader

Gay (center) receiving his World Championship gold medal alongside Usain Bolt(left) and Wallace Spearmon (right).

[edit]Road to Osaka World Championships

With Brauman still serving his sentence, Gay began working with a new coach – Olympic gold medalist Jon Drummond. Drummond was renowned for being quick off the mark, and Gay hoped that he could help improve his starting times.[7] Gay aimed to challenge World Record holder Powell's dominance of the 100 m event, stating: "I want this to be a rivalry. I want to step up to the plate".[43] His performances backed up his remarks, as he started the 2007 outdoor season with two wind-assisted runs of 9.79 s and 9.76 s.[44] The latter time was recorded with a wind only 0.2 m/s over the allowed limit, and was superior to Powell's record of 9.77 s.[45]

At the US National Championships he equaled his 100 m best of 9.84 s while running into the wind. This was a meeting record and the second fastest 100 m time with a headwind after Maurice Greene's 9.82 s run.[46] He followed this with a new 200 m personal best in the finals, again facing an impeding wind. His time of 19.62 s was the second fastest ever; only Johnson's 19.32 s run at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics was faster.[47][48] Gay was happy with the achievement but noted that the competition was still strong: "I wasn't thinking about any time. I was trying to get away from Spearmon as fast as I could.".[49] After noting that he was feeling worn out, Gay had a brief recuperation period in preparation for the 2007 World Championships in Osaka, Japan.[50] He returned to the track in Europe and, while weather conditions were poor, he won the 200 m in Lausanne with 19.78 s and had wins at 100 m events in Sheffield and London.[51] He relished the opportunity to face Powell at the World Championships: both sprinters were undefeated that year and Gay said that he felt ready for the challenge.[52]

Facing each other for the first time that year, the IAAF described the 100 m final in Osaka as "the season’s most eagerly-anticipated battle".[53] Gay won with a time of 9.85 s, sprinting ahead Derrick Atkins and third-placed Powell to become the new 100 m world champion.[54] Although this was the American's first major 100 m title,[55] he remained respectful of Powell:

"We have long looked forward to this duel. And I think somehow we are both winners. Asafa has run a strong race. He is the World record holder while I am the fastest this year and now I am the World champion...He has taken the bronze this time, but he could well come back with the gold next year in Beijing...I think for this year it makes me the fastest man in the world."[50][53]

—Tyson Gay, IAAF

Gay doubled his gold medal count in the 200 m event. He ran a new championship record time of 19.76 s to win a second gold medal, beating Usain Bolt and Spearmon to the post. Bolt was clear to point out that he lost to the better athlete: "I got beaten by the No. 1 man in the world. For the moment, he is unbeatable.".[56] Only Maurice Greene and Gatlin had won the sprint double at the Championships before, but Gay eyed a third gold in the 4 x 100 meters relay.[57] The Americans faced stiff competition from the Jamaican team, which included Powell and Bolt. The Jamaicans set a national record, but it was not enough to beat the United States team, who finished in a world-leading time of 37.78 s. Gay won his third gold medal alongsideDarvis Patton, Spearmon and Leroy Dixon.[58][59] The triple-gold haul repeated the feat achieved by Maurice Greene at the 1999 Seville World Championships and Carl Lewis in 1983 and 1987.[60]

Although Gay had been bullish in victory on the track, the achievement did not change him—he remained humble and appreciative to his rivals. In November he was chosen as the IAAF Male World Athlete of the Year for 2007 and in his acceptance speech he paid tribute to his peers, encouraging Powell to remain focused and saying that he highly regarded the Jamaican. He also dismissed comparisons to his forebears, commenting: "I honestly believe that I need to have the World record like some of the other great sprinters like Carl Lewis, Maurice Greene. I think that sets you apart, having medals and having the World record."[61] At the end of the season Gay was elected 2007 Men's Athlete of the Year by Track and Field News (topping the year's list as the fastest 100 m and 200 m sprinter), and he won the USATF's Harrison Dillard award as the top US male sprinter.[62][63][64]

[edit]2008 Beijing Olympics

Following Brauman's release from prison, Gay set out preparing for the Beijing Olympics, training with both Brauman and Jon Drummond in the off-season.[65] Returning to competition in May, he continued as he had left off in 2007: winning the 200 m in Kingston, taking gold in both sprints at theAdidas Track Classic, and finishing second in the 100 m at the Reebok Grand Prix with a 9.85 s run.[66][67] However, Gay now faced a new, emerging challenger in Usain Bolt; at the latter event Bolt had beaten Gay with a world-record-setting 9.72 s.[68] Taking this into consideration, he realized that a world record time would be needed to beat both Bolt and Powell at the Olympics; Gay aimed to run below 9.70 s.[69] With athletes running such quick times, the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) sought to counter claims of performance-enhancing drugs use through "Project Believe", a regular, extensive drugs testing program. The BALCO scandal and the banning of high profile athletes, including Gatlin and Marion Jones, had damaged the public's perception of sprinting and the USADA recruited Gay to prove clean athletes could be just as successful.[70][71]

Gay leading in the 200 m against (left to right) Anastasios GousisUsain Bolt and Churandy Martina.

The favorite for qualification in both the 100 m and 200 m at the US Olympic Trials,[72] Gay put in a strong performance in the heats. After a misjudgement in the first round almost caused him to miss out on qualification, Gay resolved to step up his pace, and he won the 100 m quarter-final with an American record-setting run of 9.77 s.[73] Breaking Maurice Greene's nine-year-old record, this made Gay the third fastest 100 m sprinter ever, after rivals Bolt and Powell.[74] In the final the following day, Gay finished first in a wind-aided 9.68 s (+4.1 m/s). This was the fastest ever 100 m time under any conditions, bettering the 9.69 s record which Obadele Thompson had set 12 years earlier.[75][76] The 200 m event was a significant set back for Gay as he suffered a hamstring injury in the qualifiers and was subsequently ruled out of the event for the Olympics.[77] The injury persisted for several weeks and he dropped out of track meetings in order to recover in time for the Olympics.[78]

Gay made his track return in Beijing but his injury had reduced his 100 m medal chances and Bolt and Powell were more favored to win the event.[79] The much anticipated Gay, Bolt and Powell final never materialised, however, as Gay failed to qualify in the semi-finals.[80][81] Finishing fifth after recording 10.05 s, Gay denied that he was still injured, but claimed the hamstring problem had upset his training schedule.[82]

Further disappointment followed as the American 4 x 100 m relay team, with Gay as anchor, failed to qualify for the final. Darvis Patton and Gay failed to pass on the baton in the heat. Gay personally took responsibility for the dropped baton but Patton denied this was true, saying "That's Tyson Gay. He's a humble guy, but I know it's my job to get the guy the baton and I didn't do that."[83] After stating his desire to win four Olympic gold medals earlier in the year, Gay finished the 2008 Olympics without a single medal.[84] Having failed to reach the finals of the 100 m sprint or relay, he reflected upon his failure to make the podium in Beijing: "[I felt the baton] then I went to grab it and there was nothing. It's kind of the way it's been happening to me this Olympics."[85]

Gay rounded off the season in Europe, winning in the 200 m at Gateshead, but he had to withdraw from a ÅF Golden League race against Bolt and Powell due to his hamstring injury.[86][87]

[edit]2009 Season

Gay returned to competition after the indoor athletics season, recording a new 400 m personal best of 45.57 seconds in May.[88] In his first 200 m outing of the season at the Reebok Grand Prix, he set a personal best and meet record of 19.58 seconds. This was the third fastest 200 m run ever, after Bolt and Johnson's world record-setting times.[89] Following a wind-aided (3.4m/s) 100 m run of 9.75 s at the US Championships, Gay stated that he could beat the world record if he improved his technique.[90] Record holder Bolt dismissed the challenge, saying that it would be difficult for Gay as "he is more of a 200 m runner".[91] At the Golden Gala in July, Gay beat Asafa Powell's 9.88 season's best with a 9.77 second run, equalling his own American record. This improved upon, World Championship contender, Bolt's previous world leading time of 9.86 seconds.[92]

The first event at the 2009 World Championships in August was the 100 m. After two sub-10 clockings in the preliminary rounds, Gay reached the final, along with Jamaicans Bolt and Powell.[93] He ran a new American record of 9.71 seconds in the race, the third fastest of all time, but this time was not fast enough to rival Bolt. Gay had to settle for second place, losing his 100 m world title to the Jamaican, who knocked 0.11 seconds off the world record with a run of 9.58 seconds.[94][95]

[edit]Personal life

Gay has a daughter with Shoshana Boyd, Trinity, who was born around 2001,[8][7] and enjoys taking care of both his own daughter and his niece Destin.[96] While Brauman was in prison for fraud, Gay looked after the coach's wife and daughter.[8] His mother Daisy married Tim Lowe in 1995, adding two half-siblings, Seth and Haleigh Lowe, to Gay's family.[5]

Gay attended the St. John Missionary Baptist Church as a child,[97] and when he returns home he still attends the church services. His beliefs matter to him both on and off the track: "I'm a religious man, so I really believe in my God-given ability, that I can do the unexpected. I really do believe I can break a record, or come close to it, or win a medal."[8] He is frequently described as a modest and respectful athlete, standing in direct contrast with previous world-class US sprinters.[4][84][98][99]

Gay has sponsorship deals with AdidasOmega SAMcDonald's and Sega.[100]


Gay holds the American record in the 100 m with 9.71 s, making him the second fastest sprinter in the history of the event after Usain Bolt.[76] His 19.58 s makes him history's third fastest 200 m runner, behind Usain Bolt and fellow American Michael Johnson.[48][89] In 2006 Gay was a member of the sixth-fastest 4 x 100 m relay team in history, running a 37.59 s with teammates Kaaron ConwrightWallace Spearmon and Jason Smoots to set the IAAF World Cup championship record in Athens.[101] His sprint combination of 100 m and 200 m in 9.84 s and 19.62 s, run over two days in 2007, was the best ever combo at that time.[102] His current best combo of 9.71 s/19.58 s is second only to Bolt's 9.58 s/19.30 s.[103][104]

[edit]Personal bests

Event Time (seconds) Venue Date
60 meters 6.55 Fayetteville, Arkansas, United States February 11, 2005
100 meters 9.71 Berlin, Germany August 16, 2009
200 meters 19.58 New York, United States May 30, 2009
400 meters 45.57 Austin, Texas, United States May 2, 2009
  • All information from IAAF Profile[103]

[edit]Competition record

Year Tournament Venue Result Event Time (seconds)
2005 World Championships in Athletics Helsinki, Finland 4th 200 m 20.34
2005 IAAF World Athletics Final Monte Carlo, Monaco 1st 200 m 19.96
2006 IAAF World Athletics Final Stuttgart, Germany 3rd 100 m 9.92
2006 IAAF World Athletics Final Stuttgart, Germany 1st 200 m 19.68
2006 IAAF World Cup Athens, Greece 1st 100 m 9.88
2007 World Championships in Athletics Osaka, Japan 1st 100 m 9.85
2007 World Championships in Athletics Osaka, Japan 1st 200 m 19.76
2007 World Championships in Athletics Osaka, Japan 1st 4x100 m relay 37.78
2008 Beijing Olympics Beijing, China 5th (semi-finals) 100 m 10.05
2008 Beijing Olympics Beijing, China DSQ 4x100 m relay Disqualified
2009 World Championships in Athletics Berlin, Germany 2nd 100 m 9.71