Tyson Gay had run only four races in the past two years because of a nagging right-hip injury before in the USA Olympic Track and Field Trials inEugene,Ore.
But lack of race experience didn’t bother him Sunday.
Gay, a Clermont resident, finished second to Justin Gatlin in the 100-meter final as both earned spots in the Olympics. FormerGrovelandSouthLakeand Universityof Florida football and track starndout Jeff Demps finished seventh and failed to qualify.
“It’s definitely a big step out of the way for Tyson,” said Gay’s coach, Lance Brauman, who has been training him at theNationalTrainingCenter. “He is just happy to make the team since he hasn’t raced much.”
Gatlin, who previously trained at ESPN Wide World of Sports at Disney, won the final in 9.80 seconds. Gay finished second in 9.86 seconds, andOregon’s Ryan Bailey claimed the finalU.S. Olympic berth in 9.93.
The men’s 100 preliminaries and final at the LondonOlympics will be Aug. 4-5.
“I knew I had to get out of the blocks, keep the middle flawless, bring it home precisely and have the technique coming through the line,” Gatlin said in a news release after the race. “I have a lot left in the tank.”
Gatlin, 30, and Gay, 29, are on the comeback trail.
Gay, who holds the American record in the 100 (9.69 seconds), had arthroscopic surgery on his hip last July and, until recently, was limited to running on grass to decrease the pounding. Gatlin, who won the gold medal in the 100 at the 2004 Olympics atAthens, is coming off a four-year suspension for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2006.
“The first two races he ran at the trials were just qualifiers, so he didn’t have to run real hard,” Brauman said of Gay. “In the last race [the final], he ran pretty solid.”
In the 5 1/2 weeks leading to the Olympics, Gay will compete inEurope. Brauman said he will run inParison July 6 and probably enter a couple of more races.
“We want to get him a little more race ready,” Brauman said.
FormerSouthLaketrack coach Chad Grabowski and former SouthLakefootball coach Walter Banks spoke with Demps over the weekend. Demps finished in 10.27 seconds, edging out only former FSU sprinter Walter Dix (10.95) in the eight-man final.
“I talked to Jeff before the semifinals,” Grabowski said. “He looked like he was running easy and didn’t exert himself a whole lot. I thought he would do well in the finals.”
It was Demps’ second attempt to make an Olympic team. In 2008, shortly after graduating fromSouthLake, he failed to advance beyond the semifinal after finishing second to Gay in a quarterfinal heat.
Demps could be selected, possibly as an alternate, on the 4 x 100 relay team.Floridatrack coach Mike Holloway coaches theU.S.sprinters.