Tyson Gay wins the 200m at the US champs in 19.62 seconds (Getty Images) © Copyright
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Gay runs 19.62, the second fastest 200m in history – USA Champs, Day 4

Tyson Gay completed the sprint double on the fourth and final day of senior action at the AT&T USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships on Sunday (24) by running the 200m in the second-fastest time in history.

The championships were the national trials for the 11th IAAF World Championships in Athletics, Osaka, Japan (25 Aug to 2 Sep 2007).

If you had any doubts about Tyson Gay, forget them. Today in the USATF men’s 200 metres, Gay ran a turn for the ages and strode home to win by nearly three metres in 19.62 seconds.

Gay’s teammate, Wallace Spearmon, was second in 19.89, and Rodney Martin was third in 20.18 and World and Olympic 400m champion Jeremy Wariner fourth in 20.35.

Spearmon, who last year had run 19.65, was in lane 5, just inside Gay. With Walter Dix and Xavier Carter not in the race, Spearmon was his only real opposition, and his strategy was simple:  “to get away from Wallace Spearmon as fast as I could.”

It worked. As they came off them the turn, Gay was perhaps five metres in front – a shocking margin – and while Spearmon made up some of the deficit,  the winner was never in doubt.

Xavier Carter, who with 19.63 to his credit last year in Lausanne was until today’s final the second fastest man in history, sprained his right knee in the semifinals and fell to the track. Walter Dix, who in May ran 19.69, scratched from the field on Saturday.

For Gay, it was the culmination of an exceptional week, which also included a 20.15 semifinal earlier today and 9.97 100m semifinal and a 9.84 final (all  into headwinds). 

"It was probably as perfect as it's going to be in these conditions," said Gay. "Anytime I'm in a race with Wallace Spearmon, I want to try to run away from him. I heard some heavy breathing - I don't know if it was Wallace or me - but I think it was probably Wallace."

"In the 200m, I don't really think I'm considered a favourite, so to come out on top is great," concluded Gay, the fastest 100m/200m sprinter of all-time.

Spearmon confirmed his tactics were simply "to get out with him (Tyson Gay), but I couldn't keep up. That's the second time he's done that to me, but he's my teammate so I can't get mad," said the 2005 World silver medallist.

Felix fights back to win, Richards secures Osaka slot too

Allyson Felix, as expected, won the women’s 200, but she got a strong challenge from Sanya Richards, who lost out on an Osaka qualification spot in her favourite 400m yesterday. Felix lost at least two metres thanks to an atrocious start, but caught the field at 120m and won by a metre in 22.34, with Richards second in 22.43 and 100m winner Torri Edwards third in 22.55.

"Today I dug deep within myself," confirmed Richards. "I didn't want that team (World Championship) to leave me. I'm still shocked I'm not going to the World Championships in the 400m, but I'm just happy to be on that team."

Williams and Johnson in close finish

There was plenty of other excitement. Tiffany Williams (nee  Ross) and Sheena Johnson raced down the home straight of the women’s 400m Hurdles stride for stride before Williams executed a better lean to win in the year’s fastest time, 53.28,  with Johnson 0.01 back. Sandra Glover, four-time World Championships finalist, faded to fourth in 55.31.

In Trammell’s wake Johnson’s impressive string ends

Terrence Trammell won a hot 110m Hurdles contest with a with a late-race surge that brought him across the line in 13.08 (+0.5), a metre clear of Dominique Arnold (13.17) and David Oliver (13.18), closely followed by David Payne (13.22), Anwar Moore (13.23) and Aries Merritt (13.24).  

The race also saw the end of Allen Johnson’s string of consecutive World Championships and Olympic teams, which began in 1995 and included  four Worlds’ gold medals and one bronze as well as the 1996 Olympic gold. Today, Johnson finished seventh in 13.60.

3:34.82 meet record for Webb

Alan Webb won an exciting 1500 metres thanks to a 55.1 last 400 metres and a homestretch spurt which carried him past defending champion Bernard Lagat to win in 3:34.82, a meet record. For a moment it appeared as if an even faster stretch run by Texan Lionel Manzano,  who also passed Lagat for second in 3:35.29, a nearly two-second PB. Lagat, winner of the 5,000 earlier in the week, had no trouble holding on to third, finishing in 3:35.55.

"Bernard (Lagat) and I talked before the race and we wanted to make it a man on man race," confirmed Webb. "It's a little more risky, but I would rather run against one guy then the whole field. I would rather just be on the team than risk tripping. The last 300 I felt great. I felt way better than I did in the prelim. I want to know what our 100 splits were. They were even, even, even."

The men’s 800m was won by consistent Khadevis Robinson, who took the lead at 200 metres (24.7),  kept it moving through 51.11 and 1:18.5, and won by six metres in 1:44.37 from Nick Symmonds’ 1:45.17,  with college student Duane Solomon a surprise third in 1:45.69.

Alysia Johnson, the NCAA women’s 800 champion two weeks ago, upset three-time winner Hazel Clark as the two battled down the final 100m with Alice Schmidt. The race was in doubt until the last step, as Clark, in the lead but faltering, fell across the line as Johnson passed her to win 1:59.47 to Clarks’ 1:59.60 and Schmidt’s 1:59.63.

Rain causes problems in the jumps

Rain early in the afternoon made a hash of several of the field events – the High Jump being won at 2.27m by Jim Dilling and the women’s Pole Vault by Jenn Stuczynski at 4.45m on her only vault before failing at 4.55.

Best of the field events was the men’s late-starting men’s Triple Jump, which saw Aarik Wilson continue his string of 17m jumps with a 17.06 (+1.7) effort to beat Lawrence Willis (16.97)  and Kenta Bell (16.87).

In the men’s Discus Throw, Michael Robertson threw 64.04 metres to edge out top throwers Ian Waltz (63.60) and Jarred Rome (63.56).  Casey Malone, expected to finish in the top three, slipped on the wet circle and never managed a good throw.

Steeplechase springs a surprise...or three

The most surprising race of the day was the men’s 3000m Steeplechase, where none of the three leading active Americans qualified for the U.S team for Osaka. Before the race, Steve Slattery turned his ankle warming up and had to drop out; Anthony Famiglietti and American record holder Dan Lincoln opted for a slow pace and found themselves outkicked by Joshua McAdams, winner by 15m in a PB 8:24.46 followed by Aaron Aguayo and Thomas Brooks, both of whom ran down Famiglietti ‘s 8:27.34 in the final metres.

James Dunaway for the IAAF

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