May 16, 2011

Tyson Gay won running away in his first race of the year, leaving Usain Bolt to respond in his debut next week. Gay torched a four-man field in a 150-meter street race in 14.51 seconds at the Great Manchester City Games, .16 seconds off Bolt's world record from the same setting in 2009.

"It felt pretty good; I'm satisfied with my victory," Gay said in a phone interview afterward. "It wasn't the world record, but at the same time I did the best I could."

Gay, who snapped Bolt's two-year winning streak in the 100 last August, said before the Manchester race he thought Bolt's 150 record was out of reach, but he came notably close given difficult circumstances -- rainy conditions and a lingering right hip problem that limited him to a self-deemed 80 percent health.

"[The hip] was a little tight at the finish," said Gay, who ran the first 100 meters in 9.91. "It's a little sore."

Gay scheduled a second doctor's visit Monday but said the injury is not serious. If the hip cooperates, Gay's 100-meter debut will come at New York's Adidas Grand Prix on June 11.

Bolt likely will not run at the Adidas Grand Prix. The Jamaican triple Olympic champion is slated to begin his season in Rome on May 26.

Gay and Bolt are not expected to go head to head until the world championships in Daegu, South Korea, in late August, which, depending on who you ask, is either holding the sport back or generating extra buzz for the biggest meet between now and the Olympics.

In other track news, American David Oliver saw his 18-race winning streak in the 110-meter hurdles snapped by Chinese star Liu Xiang in the Shanghai Diamond League meet. Oliver posted the year's best time in 2010 with a 12.89, but nobody broke 13 seconds in Shanghai.

Asafa Powell, dealing with a hamstring injury, took the 100 in Shanghai in 9.95, his 66th career sub-10-second sprint, to beat Mike Rodgers' 10.01. The women's 100 went to Veronica Campbell-Brown, who clocked 10.92 and bettered Carmelita Jeter by .03.

In Puerto Rico, 2004 Olympic champion Justin Gatlin finished second in a 100 in 10.06. Gatlin is working his way back from a four-year doping suspension that ended last August, competing in lower-level meets.


The Millrose Games' near-century run at Madison Square Garden is over. The New York track-and-field staple will move uptown to the Armory Track and Field Center in 2012, but not without controversy.

USA Track and Field is not on board with the site change. Spokeswoman Jill Geer told The New York Times that "elite professional track and field in New York belongs at the Garden."

The Armory's capacity is smaller than the attendance of last year's Millrose Games at MSG, so the meet will be divided between two sessions next January. Ironically, the Games began in 1908 at an armory.


The star of the Charlotte UltraSwim was neither Michael Phelps nor Ryan Lochte. It was 16-year-old Missy Franklin, who collected two golds, a silver and a bronze at the Grand Prix meet.

She performed so well that she earned a $10,000 payout, but Franklin, a high school athlete, passed on the prize to retain amateur status. A sophomore at Regis Jesuit High in Aurora, Colo., she has won 16 Grand Prix races this year, more than any other swimmer.

Franklin is due to decline another $20,000 if she maintains her lead in the Grand Prix series standings through the final meet in Santa Clara, Calif., next month.


U.S. gymnast Paul Hamm's comeback appears to be back on, judging by a video posted on his Facebook page. Hamm, the 2004 Olympic all-around winner, had his second straight return from retirement derailed by injury in January, when he underwent surgery for a torn labrum in his right shoulder. In 2008, a hand injury forced Hamm off the Olympic team that ultimately won bronze.

Another Olympic champion making a return, Shawn Johnson, told ESPNW her first competition since Beijing will be at August's Visa Championships in St. Paul, Minn.


The U.S. diving roster is set for July's world championships in Shanghai. The men's team includes three-time Olympian Troy Dumais and 2008 Olympians David Boudia and Chris Colwill. Leading the women are 2008 Olympians Kelci Bryant and Christina Loukas as well as Brittany Viola, the daughter of Cy Young-winning pitcher Frank Viola.

After leaving Beijing empty-handed, U.S. divers won four medals at the 2009 world championships but no gold. Only one American owns a world title this century: Laura Wilkinson, the 2000 Olympic champion who gave birth to a baby girl, Arella, last week.

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