BEIJING (AP) - This looked more like a workout than a true test.
Either way, Tyson Gay easily made it through the first round of the
Olympic 100-meter dash Friday.
Racing for the first time since crumpling to the track with a
hamstring injury six weeks ago, America's fastest sprinter enjoyed
an uneventful debut at the Beijing Games, coasting to the finish to
win his preliminary heat in 10.22 seconds.
World record-holder Usain Bolt and fellow Jamaican Asafa Powell
also advanced comfortably, winning their heats. The quarterfinals
were set for later Friday.
"It feels good," Gay said, referring to his left hamstring.
"I felt a little sluggish the first round, but my body is woke up
All three are expected to make Saturday's final - perhaps the
most highly anticipated event of the 10-day track and field meet
that opened at the Bird's Nest with Bolt running in the first heat.
That trio has run the eight fastest times ever.
Blue skies - a rarity in Beijing since the games began last week
- welcomed the runners as they started the day in the 91,000-seat
stadium, with the temperature around 80 degrees. Air quality has
been a major topic of concern for months, but the first day was
fine thanks to an overnight rainstorm that cleared the air.
Entering the day there was concern about Gay's status, though he
has been assuring everyone in Beijing he's fine. Rounding the first
corner of the 200 at the Olympic trials, the 100 and 200 world
champion pulled up, then sprawled out. He needed to be carted off
the track - hardly the setup he was looking for ahead of his first
Gay pulled out of a race in London last month, then skipped the
American training camp in Dalian, China, choosing to come directly
to Beijing to march in last week's opening ceremony and work out at
the U.S. training facility.
Lining up in Lane 2 for his first race since the injury, he got
off to a decent start, then pulled ahead about halfway through.
Bolt also turned the first race of his first Olympics into a
nonevent. He got off to a bad start and was in last place about 10
strides in, but passed everybody and was jogging when he crossed
first, in 10.20.
It was just the kind of energy-saving start everyone expected
from the 21-year-old sprinter, who set the world record of 9.72 in
a blowout win over Gay on May 31 in New York.
Bolt needs to go easy because he'll be trying for two individual
medals. Even though he holds the 100 record, the 200 has been his
better race, and it starts Monday. Only after some hemming and
hawing did he commit to running the Olympic 100 as well.
"Tonight, tonight, tonight," Bolt said as he hustled through
the interview area to get ready for the later heats.
Powell simply gave a thumbs up after winning his heat in 10.16.
He held the world record at 9.74 until Bolt broke it.
Powell has overcome a chest injury that sidelined him for much
of the season, but insists that's healed and what fans are most
interested in is how he responds to pressure. Never known as a
big-race performer, he finished fifth at the Athens Olympics and
third at last year's world championships, pulling up at the end.
Americans Darvis Patton and Walter Dix also finished in the top
three to advance. Dix also qualified for the U.S. team in the 200.
It is he, not Gay, who has a chance at two individual golds.
"I felt controlled, good start, did exactly what I wanted to do
in that race," Dix said after finishing third.
The fastest time of the morning was 10.13, run by Tyrone Edgar
The first track and field medals were to be handed out later
Friday in the shot put, and Americans Reese Hoffa, Christian
Cantwell and Adam Nelson all made it through to preserve the
possibility of a sweep.
Hoffa has put out the tantalizing prospect of pulling a roundoff
back tuck if he wins gold - something to look forward to in the
evening session from the 315-pounder.
His plans for the midday break?
"Probably play a few video games," he said. "Something like
with the Wii, where you don't have to push buttons."
Nelson, meanwhile, was heading straight to physical therapy. He
has sore ribs after hurting himself in training Monday. The
two-time Olympic silver medalist said he'll tough it out.
"It's a case of mind over matter," Nelson said. "If I breathe
or turn the wrong way, it bothers me."