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Gay razes field in 200 meters

by Ed Odeven

OSAKA — The IAAF dubbed it the “sub-20-second war” in its preview story in the daily program.

It lived up to the hype.

On Thursday, Tyson Gay of the United States captured the gold in 19.76 seconds and Jamaica’s Usain Bolt grabbed the silver in 19.91 in the 2007 IAAF World Athletics Championships.

Gay completed the first 100 meters in first place and increased his slight lead over Bolt down the back stretch.

Wallace Spearmon of the United States took home the bronze, moving from fourth to third in the final 10 meters.

The 200 final was expected to be a duel between Gay and Bolt at Nagai Stadium.

It was.

Indeed, it’s been a super week for Gay, the undisputed fastest man in the world — for now.

Gay, the 100-meter champion on Monday evening, entered the race as the second-fastest 200 sprinter of all time (19.62 seconds on June 24) and had the quickest effort at that distance of 2007. For Bolt, his top showing of the year was 19.75. Spearmon had also zoomed to the finish in less than 20 ticks in a June 2 race.

And so there were three sub-20 runners in the eight-man field.

Two other Jamaicans joined the eight-man field, Marvin Anderson and Christopher Williams. Churandy Martina of the Netherlands Antilles was the fourth Caribbean vying for the top spot.

American Rodney Martin and Anastasios Gousis of Greece rounded out the group.

In the highly entertaining semifinals, the Jamaican, who is aptly dubbed “Lightning Bolt,” won the first race in 20.03, edging Spearmon by two hundredths of a second.

Check out his reaction after the race:

“I needed a little bit more work on that than in the second round, but I used the same concept — to start fast and then control the race. For me, the best lane in the finals will be six or seven.”

Gay dashed to the finish line in 20 seconds flat in the second semifinal. Anderson was next in 20.06.

For Gay, it was a satisfying effort.

“This race felt a lot better than the quarterfinal,” Gay said, referring to a race he won in 20.08. “My hamstring was popping then. Now my hamstring feels a little better.”

Bolt’s first athletic pursuit was cricket, but now spends more time on the basketball court.

In 2004, he was the first junior athlete to shatter the 20-second barrier, running 19.93 seconds in a victorious effort at the Carifta Games in Bermuda.

There were six first-round heats. Anderson, Martin, Gousis and Gay were among the winners. Japan’s Shinji Takahara and Canada’s Bryan Barnett also produced wins to earn berths in the second round.