/

U.S. sprint stars Gay, Felix cruise to easy victories in 100

by Kaz Nagatsuka

Tyson Gay and Allyson Felix did not have their best races, but still lived up to top billing as both triumphed in a comfortable manner.

Gay ended up with a lukewarm 10.13 seconds in the men’s 100 meters and Felix was 11.22 in the women’s 100 in the 2009 Super Track and Field Meet in Kawasaki at Todoroki Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.

American sprinter Gay had proclaimed that he was going to finish under 10 seconds despite the fatigue compiled from the series of competitions throughout the year.

He came up short but still led the pack to cross the finish line first, ahead of top Japanese runners Naoki Tsukahara and Masashi Eriguchi, who finished second and third, respectively (their times were the same at 10.31).

“The race went pretty well. I had some good competition. It wasn’t the time I was looking for, but at the same time I had a good time,” the 27-year-old Gay said after the race.

“I wanted to run 9.99, but I didn’t do it. My condition was OK, but I didn’t warm up my body as much as I wanted to. And I’m tired a little bit.”

Gay was coming off clocking 9.69, tying the second fastest time ever recorded behind Usain Bolt, in a victory at the Shanghai Grand Prix on Sunday.

“Gay has been traveling around the world and I think he has had more races than we did,” the 20-year-old Eriguchi said. “But he never complains and always tries to win. That kind of athlete is a true strong athlete and it’s not just about time. It was blessing for me to be able to compete with such a runner today.”

Felix, primarily a 200 runner who grabbed her third consecutive gold medal at the World Championships in Berlin last month in the event, received a bit of a challenge from Japanese record holder Chisato Fukushima as the 23-year-old American gave up an early lead. But she made a strong comeback after the 70-meter point.

“Today’s race went all right. I was a little rusty as I haven’t run in the 100 in the last couple of months,” Felix said. “(But) it was all about coming out, having fun. It’s (a) special place for me. So I had fun just seeing the crowd. I was so energized.

“Fukushima’s start was very good. She’s a very strong runner, and I knew that. It’s not my strength at the start, so I just tried to stay patient and I just tried to stay focused to come back. But she ran a phenomenal race, that’s all.”

Fukushima, whose national record is 11.24, was second at 11.42, followed by World Championships teammate, Mayumi Watanabe (11.64). Fukushima’s archrival Momoko Takahashi sank to fifth at 11.71.

“I feel like I could’ve done better a bit, but that I was able to compete with one of the best (Felix) was good,” Fukushima said.

In the field, Yukifumi Murakami, the World Championships bronze medalist in javelin, received all the attention from the fans. He fell short at 82.41 meters to Finland’s Teemu Wirkkala, who made a 82.60 toss in his fifth attempt.

But Murakami, who became Japan’s second World Championships medalist in tossing events to hammer’s Koji Murofushi, showed a relieved smile after the competition.

“I had never got this kind of attention before, so I was actually more nervous than in Berlin,” joked Murakami, whose mark at Berlin was 83.10 (in qualifying). “I could compete in an atmosphere I’d never experienced and felt pretty good today.”

Meanwhile, two-time World Championships gold medalist in the men’s 400 hurdles, Felix Sanchez, won at 48.91 and Japan’s top runner Kenji Narisako was second at 49.41.

In other competitions, winners were: Congo’s Gary Kikaya (men’s 400), Bahamas’ Donald Thomas (men’s high jump), Takafumi Suzuki (men’s pole vault), Reese Hoffa of the United States (men’s shot put), Canada’s Perdi Felicien (women’s 100 hurdles), Asami Tanno (women’s 400), Russia’s Tatia Lebedeva (women’s long jump) and Kara Patterson of the U.S. (women’s javelin throw).