Tyson Gay comes through strong at the end to defeat Asafa Powell in the men's 100m in Thessaloniki (Getty Images) © Copyright
American Gay, who fought his way back from injury to secure his place on the USA Olympic 100m squad at their national trials last week in a time of 9.86, will be seeking his first Olympic medal this summer after injury disrupted his preparation for Beijing 2008 and he was unable to perform at his peak.
The 29-year-old will also race this Friday (6) at the Meeting Areva in Paris, where he is to face U.S. trials winner Justin Gatlin and European champion Christophe Lemaitre.
Powell, the former World record holder who has run the most sub-10 second 100m races of any athlete in history, will be looking to overcome past Olympic disappointments from Athens and Beijing, where he finished fifth in the 100m final on both occasions. The 29-year-old also secured his place on the Jamaican Olympic team last week, when he ran 9.88 at the national trials to finish in third place.
Both men insist that they are on track to do damage later this summer in London and are excited about facing off for the first time this year at London’s Samsung Diamond League event. Gay, who ran a scintillating 9.78 at Crystal Palace in 2010 but was unable to follow that up in 2011 through injury, is excited to run again in south London as he heads back to full fitness.
Gay said: "I’m looking forward to coming back to Crystal Palace for the Aviva London Grand Prix. I felt great two years ago and hope to feel the same this year. I haven’t raced much this year and I’m feeling better each time out there on the track.
"My body is getting closer to where I want it to be. I’ve shown over the years that through all of the injuries, I’m a fighter, and I hope to be fighting for that Olympic gold in London later this summer."
Powell, who has enjoyed success in the UK in the past including victories at Crystal Palace and a 9.77 run in Gateshead that saw him equal his own World Record in 2006, is looking to repeat that good form in 2012.
He said: "I’ve got some good memories from the London Diamond League event. I want to pick up where I started here and come away with a good, fast win.
"This is a big year for me. I’m not getting any younger but there’s a lot more to come from me. I’ve learned a lot from past major championships. I don’t take anything for granted and I’m working as hard as ever. I know that I’m capable of running 9.8, 9.7, 9.6, so all that I’m focusing on is myself.
Joining the two stars will be an array of international sprinting talent with World and Olympic titles to their name. Powell’s Jamaican relay teammate Nesta Carter – part of the Jamaican Olympic and World Champion 4x100m squads – will line up alongside Kim Collins, the 36-year-old St. Kitts and Nevis man who won the World title in 2003 and impressed with an individual and relay bronze at last year’s World Championships in Daegu. Commonwealth Champion Lerone Clarke, another sub-10 second Jamaican, will also pose a threat at Crystal Palace.
Tyson Gay is upbeat about facing some of the world’s best in London.
"Running against Asafa and others again in London is going to be exciting. It’s great for the sport and for the crowd when some of the top guys get together at Diamond League events. Fans in London love their track so it’s always fun to run in front of a crowd that show their appreciation like they do."
Powell, meanwhile, is excited to test himself against Gay in London ahead of an Olympic Games that will potentially bring the fastest men ever together for the first time.
"I’m looking forward to taking on Tyson. It’s good to have him back and it’s going to make for a very competitive Olympic Games. Hopefully the world will be able to see the four fastest men ever going head-to-head in the 100m final in August in London, what a race that would be."
The men’s 100m heats and final will take place on Friday 13 July at the Aviva London Grand Prix.
Organisers for the IAAF