DES MOINES, Iowa — So sore for so long, Tyson Gay is sometimes leery of digging deep and testing out that surgically repaired hip.
In a race between a fellow thirty-something, he really had no choice.
Down early against Justin Gatlin after a slow start, Gay had ground to make up. So, he cranked it up a level.
The hip responded just fine. And with it any doubts about Gay’s health instantly vanished as he roared back to capture the 100 meters Friday night at the U.S. championships.
Gay finished in 9.75 seconds, the fastest in the world this season. Gatlin, wearing a support bandage on his tweaked right hamstring, wound up in second. Charles Silmon took third as he held off Michael Rodgers by two-thousandths of a second for the last spot on the team headed to Moscow for the world championships in August.
“That,” Gay said, his grin growing wider, “went good.”
Even more, he was walking around without a grimace of pain following the race, something that hasn’t been the case in recent years. He’s been dealing with nagging groin and hamstring issues, along with that troublesome hip.
“Tyson can be great if he’s healthy,” ex-Olympic champ Maurice Greene said.
In the women’s 100, Oregon star and NCAA champion English Gardner, who just recently turned pro, captured the title, breezing past the field even on a balky ankle. Octavious Freeman was second and Alexandria Anderson took third to earn spots to worlds.
“I really came out and performed well,” Gardner said. “It’s going to be a long haul, me and this ankle. It’s a very emotional battle.”
Gay entered the race with the fastest time in the world. But Gatlin had the more impressive win, recently beating Usain Bolt. Gatlin led early, only to be caught by Gay.
“He didn’t show anything different than what I’ve seen of Tyson before,” said the 31-year-old Gatlin, who tweaked his hamstring at a recent meet but hid the injury until Friday. “A healthy Justin and a prime Justin will be able to (race) all the way to the line.”
The times were definitely faster on Friday after USA Track and Field elected to change the direction for all sprint events so they wouldn’t be running into a strong gust, like they were the night before.
Other winners on Friday were A.G. Kruger (hammer throw), University of Washington alum Brad Walker (pole vault), Lance Brooks (discus) and Sharon Day (heptathlon). It was a quite a two-day stretch for Day as she as she finished with a personal-best score of 6,550 points.