Sports

Even out of commission, Gay is focus

EUGENE, Ore. — Sunday was a big day for Kentucky big guys.

UK throws coach Doug Reynolds, Wildcats senior-to-be Rashaud Scott and Louisville alumnus James Dennis finished 4-5-8 in the discus.

But even when sidelined, Tyson Gay drew much attention as the U.S. Olympic track and field trials concluded Sunday at sold-out (21,176) Hayward Field.

Gay, out of Lexington's Lafayette High School, was absent from the men's 200-meter finals. Last year's world champion at 100 and 200 meters pulled up about 40 meters into Saturday's 200-meter quarterfinals.

An MRI at Slocum Center for Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Eugene showed a “mild strain” of his left hamstring.

According to his manager, Gay “is expected to engage in ‘active rest' for up to 12-14 days, with light physical activity increasing through that period, and then resume training. Tyson's only confirmed pre-Olympic competition is the 100 meters at the Aviva London Grand Prix on July 25, and that is still on the schedule.”

Before Sunday's events, U.S. Olympic men's head coach Bubba Thornton was asked whether the finish-in-the-top-three system used to pick Team USA is fair.

The question comes up whenever a beaten or injured favorite is left off a roster. Some sports — notably men's gymnastics this year, with Paul Hamm — allow discretionary picks.

Not so in track, which suits Thornton fine: “I believe in the system.”

“At the end of the day, there will not be a person in this gathering that is going to say, ‘Oh, they politicked on (to the team).' They did not politick on. They made the team. And I think that's the beauty of what happens when this special time comes around every four years. ... It's what they've done right now.”

Gay had already qualified for Team USA, thanks to his windy 9.68-second 100-meter win last week.

Thornton saw Gay on Sunday morning.

“He's making preparations for that call in Beijing,” Thornton said. “Very bright people are assisting him. I'm excited with the information I get.”

Thornton said that Gay “was smiling, getting on the elevator to get started, to get to that next starting line. And he was walking. ... I am very confident that he is going to be in place (at Beijing) when they say ‘On your mark.' ”

The U.S. roster will be submitted Tuesday and announced publicly July 14. Relay combinations will not be announced until 24 hours before competition.

With the world champ out of the 200 Sunday, trials 100-meter runner-up Walter Dix sprinted to victory, edging 2004 Olympic champion Shawn Crawford.

“Hopefully he's getting a hamstring taken care of,” Dix said when asked about Gay. “Because we're gonna need him for that 4-by-1 (relay). We're gonna need him at the Olympics, period.”

Wallace Spearmon, Gay's training partner when they ran for Arkansas, took third.

“Hopefully, he'll be all right and he'll go out there and put on a show in that 100,” Spearmon said of Gay.

Kentucky's throwers did put on a show Sunday.

Reynolds, competing in his fourth Olympic trials, notched his third consecutive top-five finish.

He hit a season-best 205 feet, 6 inches on his first throw. He hyperextended his right elbow during the fifth round and bent over in pain after trying a sixth throw.

“I've just been fighting so many injuries all year,” he said. “I just didn't have the (practice) time. I was able to pull out the best I had today. That paid off, and I made the top four.”

Scott, who won last month's NCAA meet, also hit a seasonal best, 204-4. Dennis hit 198-7 on his first throw, fouled twice, then withdrew because a groin injury.

Scott's 204-4 came in the second round, the only throw on which he did not foul.

“It's what I've been doing all season long, technically, dropping my shoulder,” he said. “If I can fix that problem, I'll be up there with the top three guys.”

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