Already the American record-holder in the men's 100-meter dash coming into the 2009 season, Tyson Gay first tied that mark (9.77) at Rome, then lowered the record to 9.71 for a World Championships silver medal at Berlin and, finally, to 9.69 at Shanghai. That is second-fastest in history, trailing only Jamaican superstar Usain Bolt's 9.58.
Gay, 27 and a 2001 graduate of Lafayette High School, won seven of nine 100s, losing only to Bolt and former world record-holder Asafa Powell.
Gay's fastest 200 meters of the season, 19.58, makes him third-fastest ever at that distance. He won three times in as many starts at 200.
Gay won the Jesse Owens Award, presented annually by USA Track & Field to the top American male and female in the sport. He also won the award in 2007.
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Track & Field News Magazine, in a ranking of athletes in all events — from weights and jumps to sprints, distances and hurdles — put Gay No. 3 in the world and No. 1 in the United States for 2009. (Bolt ranked first in the world, followed by Ethiopian distance whiz Kenenisa Bekele. World champions LaShawn Merritt (400 meters) and Dwight Phillips (long jump) finished 2-3 in the U.S. rankings.)