EUGENE, Ore. (AP) – Tyson Gay was a blur in blue, sprinting 100 meters faster than anyone ever has.
His time of 9.68 seconds at the U.S. Olympic trials Sunday doesn't count as a world record, because it was run with the help of a too-strong tailwind. Here's what does matter: Gay qualified for his first Summer Games team and served notice he's certainly someone to watch in Beijing.
“It means a lot to me,” the 25-year-old Gay said. “I'm glad my body could do it, because now I know I have it in me.”
Wearing a royal blue uniform with red and white diagonal stripes across the front, along with matching shoes, all in a tribute to 1936 Olympic star Jesse Owens, Gay dominated the competition. He started well and pulled out to a comfortable lead by the 40-meter mark.
This time, he kept pumping those legs all the way through the finish line, extending his lead. In Saturday's opening heat, Gay pulled way up, way too soon, and nearly was caught by the field, before accelerating again and lunging in for fourth place.
No such close call this time.
No one ever has covered 100 meters more quickly. The previous fastest time under any conditions was 9.69, run in 1996 by Obadele Thompson, who now is married to Marion Jones.
Gay's race came with the wind blowing at 4.1 meters per second; anything above 2.0 is not allowed for record purposes.
“I didn't really care what the wind was,” Gay said.
Walter Dix, the 2007 NCAA champion from Florida State, overtook Darvis Patton in the final 20 meters for second place. Dix clocked 9.80 and Patton 9.84, as each of the first six finalists turned in times under 10 seconds.
“When I looked up and saw the numbers,” Dix said, “I was like, ‘Wow, that's fast.’
After the race, Gay and Dix looked at each other and slapped palms, then hugged.
Recounted Dix: “He said, ‘We did it. We both did it. We made it to Beijing. We're going to Beijing.’ ”
The official world record is 9.72 seconds, set by Jamaica's Usain Bolt on May 31 in New York – with Gay a distant second. That race sent Gay and his coach, Jon Drummond, to work, tinkering with the runner's start and style.
Drummond noticed Gay was bringing his feet too high behind his back with each stride, and they worked to correct that. Clearly, it's paying off.
After misjudging the finish in his opening heat Saturday, Gay ran 9.77 in a quarterfinal a few hours later, breaking the American record that had stood since 1999.
He's hoping to win both the 100 and 200 at this meet – and at the Beijing Olympics. He pulled off that double at the 2007 world championships, and qualifying at these trials in the 200 begins Friday.
“I'm sore right now,” Gay said, “but probably from the victory lap.”
Everyone expected Gay to make the U.S. team. Similarly, long jumper Dwight Phillips also was considered a lock. Phillips is, after all, the 2004 Olympic gold medalist, a two-time world champion and three-time national champion.
But Phillips flopped Sunday, winding up in fourth place by less than an inch. Only the top three finishers in each event earn the right to go to the Olympics, and so Trevell Quinley, Brian Johnson and Miguel Pate will be on the team instead.
In other event finals, 2005 world champion Bershawn Jackson led a trio of favorites in the men's 400-meter hurdles. Jackson won in 48.17, followed by reigning world champion Kerron Clement in 48.36, and 2000 Olympic gold medalist Angelo Taylor in 48.42.
Less than a half-hour later, Taylor tried to compete in the 400 meters, but he stopped about 250 meters into his heat, apparently exhausted.
In the women's 400 hurdles, Tiffany Ross-Williams, Queen Harrison and Sheena Tosta qualified to go to China. In the women's discus, Aretha Thurmond repeated her trials victory from 2004 by throwing 213 feet, 11 inches (65.20 meters), and she'll be joined in Beijing by Suzy Powell-Roos, who's on her third Olympic team, and Stephanie Brown Trafton.
Only two women made the team in the triple jump: three-time national champion Shani Marks and Erica McLain.
Derek Miles won the men's pole vault with a top effort of 19 feet, 0- 1/4 inches, and 40-year-old Jeff Hartwig and U.S. record-holder Brad Walker also qualified.