It was supposed to be a coming out party for Tyson Gay. It was an opportunity to compete for the "World's Fastest Man" title. Gay arrived on the Olympic scene with so much promise after smoking Asafa Powell in Japan. The hype was briefly lowered after he was surprisingly beaten by an unknown Insane Bolt in May, which, incidentally, was the same race Bolt broke the world record for the first time.
In June, however, Gay ran a wind-aided 9.68, which signified to many he was ready to challenge Bolt on the world stage and help lead the American sprinters back to glory.
Then the hamstring trouble started.
About a month before Beijing, Gay hurt his hamstring -- one of the most important muscles to sprinters -- while trying to qualify for the 200. Right then, the omen of a potentially disastrous Olympics for Gay should have been recognized. However, Gay addressed these fears by saying his hammy was 100% -- obviously not the case after watching Gay fail to even qualify for the 100-meter final.
From that point on, it's been all Usain Bolt. All the adulation and recognition went to the Jamaican sprinter with the mega-watt personality and rightfully so. When you do things on the track that hasn't been done since names like Carl Lewis and Jesse Owens, you deserve all the attention you get.
Sadly, this could've been Tyson Gay. In fact, to some, it was supposed to be.
Gay had one more shot at some Olympic redemption with the 4x100 meter relay, but after dropping the baton in the qualifying round, he, once again, was denied an opportunity to even medal. What was supposed to be a coming out party turned into a funeral wake.
Now, I'm not saying a healthy Gay would or could beat Bolt at these Olympics. I just wish he had the opportunity to try. The sprinter who is capable of running like this (wind or no):
Is capable of at least giving Bolt a race and if Gay didn't win gold, silver ain't too bad -- especially when that makes you the second fastest person in the world.
Could the American 4x1 relay team beat the Jamaican World Record-breaking team from this morning? Who knows, but it would've been nice to see Gay and company get the opportunity to see for themselves.
As for Gay, he turned 26 at the beginning of August, meaning he probably won't get another chance at individual Olympic gold after Beijing. He might get another shot at the 4x100 in 2012, but it's doubtful he'll be running the anchor. Also, it's important to remember Usain Bolt will be 26 in 2012, which puts him directly in his prime, so who knows what kind of times he'll be posting by then.
No, for Lexington, Kentucky native, the Olympic Games are a failure and that, my friends, is one of the sadder stories to come out of Beijing. Yes, he'll get some redemption shots at various future meets, but they certainly won't have the same kind of luster as the Olympics, even if it's a Bolt-versus-a-healthy-Gay situation.
Sometimes, even all the natural talent in the world isn't enough. Luck and health play as big of a part and if you don't believe me, just ask Tyson Gay.