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LetsRun.com's 2009 IAAF Berlin World Championships Preview
Men's 200m - Bolt vs. Gay Round II
Four days after a meeting in the 100m final, Tyson Gay and Usain Bolt will likely get another crack at each other in the 200m final in Berlin. Physically and psychologically, the 200m will be a massive test for both competitors, as they will have endured several races and dozens of interviews by the time 8:35pm Berlin time rolls around. Who will be the stronger man over the half lap?
In 2007, it was Gay. In 2009, Gay has the best time in the world, but only by 0.01 seconds over the Jamaican. Bolt's 200m and 150m performances have been other-worldly in 2009, as they were in 2008. Running in cool, rainy and windy conditions, Bolt has nonetheless produced 19.59 (wind -0.9) and a world record in the 150m on a straight track in Manchester.
The advantage simply has to go to Usain Bolt. He has demolished the world's top runners with such ease that imagining a loss is almost impossible. His 19.30 in Beijing broke one of the toughest world records on the books, Michael Johnson's 19.32 from Atlanta in 1994. His 19.59 in Lausanne in July was one of the most dominant and shocking performances we have ever seen from a sprinter.
If any man alive can beat Bolt, it looks like Gay will have to do it. Wallace Spearmon, the world's 5th-best 200m runner of all time with a 19.68 personal best, seems to lag behind the top two by the width of a parking lot, not a hair. 2004 Olympic champion Shawn Crawford? Same deal.
One key to the race will be fatigue, as we mentioned earlier. The sprinting schedule for Gay and Bolt will likely look like this: 2 100m races Saturday, 2 100m races Sunday, rest day, 2 200m races Tuesday, 1 200m race Wednesday and 1 200m race Thursday. Bolt and Gay have both been put through the pressure cooker before and emerged as multi-champions. We'll see if Bolt is really head-and-shoulders above the rest or if Tyson Gay can knock Superman back to Earth.
Before we go, we want to point out one more thing. We track fans tend to become enamored with one athlete or another. While Bolt does tend to perform like a superhero, watch the 2007 World Championships 200m from Osaka as a reminder that there once was a day when Usain Bolt could be beaten by one man in the world: Tyson Gay.
Men's 200m Statistics By LRC Coaching Guru John Kellogg
19.58 Tyson Gay (USA) (#3 all-time, #2 all-time USA) Gold medal in 2007 World Championships, 4th in 2005 World Championships