Few US track and field sprinters have burst onto the scene with quite the pace that Tyson Gay did. After rapidly becoming the joint-second fastest athlete ever, Tyson has endured some tough times, but where did it all go wrong, and why was there no big comeback? In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the achievements of Tyson Gay.
Who is Tyson Gay?
Born in 1982 in Lexington, Kentucky, Tyson Gay burst into track and field in the Kentucky High School State Championships in 2001, when he won the 100m gold and set a state record with 10.46s. He also took silver in the 200m, before deciding to join Barton County Community College, in Kansas.
Improving his personal bests in the 100m and 200m, Gay bagged the NJCAA National Championship, before moving on to the University of Arkansas to join their track and field program. At Arkansas, Gay continued to impress, finishing fourth in the NCAA Men’s Indoor Track and Field Championship, and winning the NCAA Men’s Outdoor Track and Field Championship 100m event, with a 10.06s record.
After missing on the US Olympic Team for 2004, he spent his final year as an amateur athlete helping the University of Arkansas win another NCAA title, before deciding to become a professional athlete.
By 2005, Gay had won a gold medal in the World Athletics Final and capped off 2006 with a superb performance at the IAAF World Athletics Final. Winning gold in the 100m and 200m events (beating Usain Bolt along the way) in 2007 at the Osaka Championships was a high-point for the athlete. The following year was not his best, with his Beijing Olympics appearance being a poor affair.
In 2009, Gay won the silver in the 2009 World Championships and set a new US record, but recurring injuries and hip problems saw him out of action for most of 2011.
It All Goes Wrong In London
Gay qualified for the London Olympics in 2012, but Gay couldn’t finish higher than fourth in the 100m final but was more successful in the 4x100m relay. The following year, Gay again underperformed at the 2013 National Championships, but before the World Championships in Moscow, Gay tested positive for a banned substance. He admitted doping (albeit via a third party). After losing his Adidas contract, and having his (and his relay teams) 2012 Olympic medals stripped, the USADA banned Gay for a year and expunged his records from 2012 onwards.
Despite the fall from grace, Tyson Gay has returned to the world of American track and field. He won the 100m Prefontaine Classic in 2015, qualified for the World and Olympic Games in 2016 in the 4x100m relays, but finished just sixth out of ninth in the 2015 World Athletics Championships. The 2016 Olympics saw the relay team once again pick up a medal (bronze), although this time, another relay team member (Gatlin) was the cause of disqualification (handling a baton outside of the exchange zone), so this Gay once again had to hand back his medal.
It’s been a quiet time since, but here is to hoping Tyson Gay hasn’t turned his back on athletics just yet.