US sprinter out to make Jamaicans feel not so Gay
US' Tyson Gay faces two strong rivals in Jamaica's Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell.
Beijing: Tyson Gay says he is raring to go as the hype is about to become reality in one of the most eagerly anticipated Olympic 100 metres ever with the American confronting two Jamaicans intent on giving the Caribbean island their first ever Olympic title in the event.
The trio come into the event with an impressive list of credentials.
Gay, 26 last Saturday, has shown he has the big race temperament having won the world title last year whilst Usain Bolt owns the world record of 9.72 seconds and Asafa Powell is the former world record holder.
However, there are question marks hanging over all three which may allow for someone else such as American youngster Walter Dix to gatecrash the party.
Gay is returning after a hamstring injury which has left him without a race for over a month, Bolt is untried over a championship series of 100m races and Powell's ability to handle the pressure on the big stage is still questionable.
All three, though, will also be aiming to restore some of the lustre to the blue riband event which has been seriously tarnished 20 years after Ben Johnson thought wrongly that he had fooled the world in winning the title in Seoul pumped up to the eyeballs with steroids.
Gay for one is well aware that the eyes of the world are on them in delivering firstly a top class race and secondly it being a clean winner.
"I understand the scepticism there is about the winner of the 100m being clean," said Gay, who admits he rings his mother when he needs calming down.
"It comes with the territory as past champions have been revealed as being doped. The Olympic champion does have to carry himself as being a clean athlete."
Gay, who unlike Bolt will not be going for a sprint double as he collapsed with the hamstring injury during the 200m at the US trials, believes that he may have been done a favour by the injury in that he is not seen as the favourite.
"Normally the favourite should be the fastest man in the world," said Gay, who became the American recordholder with a time of 9.77sec at the US trials.
"I don't know how he's (Bolt) taking it (the pressure). It's a lot of pressure. People both inside and outside Jamaica expect him to win it. It's the first time he's run a series of 100m races. However he's a different type of guy to previous record holders. He may take it a little easier than the others because he likes to go out and have fun," added Gay.
Bolt, who won silver in the world 200m final last year, says he is not feeling nervous about the task ahead.
"I'm not worried," said Bolt, who timed 9.72 seconds in late May to become the fastest man in the world shaving a hundreth of a second off Powell's previous mark.
"I'm in good form and for the moment everything is going well," added the 21-year-old, who is the choice of American legend Michael Johnson.
Powell says that he is relaxed about the challenge ahead, though, he has been upset by being tested four times since he arrived in China which he claims has left him weakened ahead of Friday's heats.
"Usain taking the record is a great weight off my shoulders," said the 25-year-old, whose main international honours are a Commonwealth sprint double from Melbourne in 2006.
"I am happier being the underdog. Tyson is obviously in good shape but he has had to peak for the US trials.
"Tyson has beaten me only once in his life and I have beaten him over 100 times but he won when it mattered," Powell said in reference to last year's World Championships 100m final in Osaka, a race in which he could only finish third.