US, Jamaican sprinters look to Moscow
Sprint hierarchy could be established this week as the United States and Jamaica hold their trials for the athletics World Championships scheduled for Moscow August 10-18.
Tyson Gay and Justin Gatlin spearhead the US challenge to six-time Olympic gold medallist and double world record-holder Usain Bolt and his fellow Jamaican speedsters, including reigning 100m world champion Yohan Blake.
Walter Dix, second to Blake in the 100m and to Bolt in the 200m at the 2011 worlds in Daegu, South Korea, is also in the mix at the US championships that start on Thursday at Drake University, longtime home of the Drake Relays athletics meeting.
The men's 100m finals will be held on the same day – Friday – at both the US and Jamaican trials, which run Thursday through Sunday in Kingston.
The Jamaican meeting has been clouded by a potential doping scandal surrounding two-time Olympic gold medallist and current 200m world champion Veronica Campbell-Brown, who has accepted a provisional suspension while her case is being investigated.
Blake, who receives a 100m wild-card into the worlds offered to reigning champions by the IAAF, on Tueday withdrew from the trials, his manager citing coach Glen Mills's concern over his fitness due to a right thigh injury.
Bolt, disqualified from the 100m at Daegu because of a false start, must earn his World Championships berth in that event.
"I'll go to the trials to try to win, but it's all about the qualification," Bolt said after setting a meet record of 19.79 in winning the 200m at Oslo on Friday.
The victory came after a rare 100m defeat by Gatlin in Rome on June 6, although Bolt was unconcerned after the loss.
"It's all about the World Championships," he said. "I've got two months to get it right.
"You learn more from losing. You can't win every race in your career, I've learned that ... I'm not worried."
The 31-year-old Gatlin, for his part, was aware that he may have merely wakened a slumbering giant.
Bolt saves his best for the biggest stages and comes back strong from defeat. Last year Blake beat him in the 100m and 200m at the Jamaican Olympic trials, but couldn't repeat the feat at the London Games.
"I just want to be able to give him some competition when he's at top form," Gatlin said. "He's a legend and I want to go out and just fight for the end. Much respect."
Gay and Gatlin – who has served a drugs ban since winning Olympic 100m gold in 2004 – come into the pivotal trials week with the fastest 100m times in the world this year, Gay with a 9.86sec posted at Kingston on May 4 and Gatlin with a 9.91 delivered in Beijing on May 21.
Gay also boasts a wind-aided 19.79sec 200m this season, and after years of injuries is healthy and eyeing a multiple medal challenge in Moscow.
Gay won 100m, 200m and 4x100m gold at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka, but a hamstring injury derailed his 2008 Olympic campaign and 2011 hip surgery to resolve several chronic problems saw him sidelined for almost a year.
To preserve his fitness, the 30-year-old veteran has run fewer races in 2013 and expected to arrive in Des Moines at full strength for the demanding challenge of the US trials, where the top three finishers in each event can book World Championship team places.
"I feel like it's going to be one of Tyson Gay's best years," former Olympian Ato Boldon, now a television commentator, said this month.