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Page last updated at 11:54 GMT, Friday, 30 April 2010 12:54 UK

Tyson Gay aims for Tommie Smith's 44-year-old record

Manchester Great City Games
Date: 16 May Coverage: Great Manchester Run 1000-1130 BST & Great City Games 1630-1800 BST live on BBC Two and BBC Sport website (UK users only)

Tyson Gay

Watch Tyson Gay win the 200m at Crystal Palace in 2009

Tyson Gay will attempt to beat sprint legend Tommie Smith's 44-year-old straight 200m record at the Great City Games in Manchester on 16 May.

Gay holds the third fastest time for a traditional 200m race, which uses a bend, having run 19.58 seconds in 2009.

Smith set the straight 200m record of 19.5 sec on a cinder track 1966.

Meanwhile, Gay will run the 200m at the British Grand Prix in Gateshead on 10 July and the 100m at the London Grand Prix at Crystal Palace on 13-14 August.

"I've been to Gateshead twice and was able to win both times," said Gay.

"I'm hoping to make it three in a row when I go back to compete in July.

I've already programmed my mind to run faster than 9.69 this year

Tyson Gay

"The crowd is always great, really lively and energetic. I look forward to giving them a great show.

"Competing in London is always great. The stadium is always packed and there's a great carnival atmosphere."

At the Great City Games in Manchester 65-year-old Texan Smith, who won gold at the 1968 Games in Mexico City, will be in attendance to see Gay's performance.

Even if Gay breaks the mark, he could still be short of Usain Bolt's 200m world record of 19.19 sec, which he set at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin.

Gay goes into the race in impressive form; in winning the 400m at the Tom Jones Classic in Gainesville, Florida on 17 April he became the first man to go under 10 seconds for the 100m, 20 sec for the 200m and 45 sec over 400m.

The 27-year-old's achievements was made the more impressive considering his 400m time was the only time this season he has run in spikes.

"I hope my 400 relates to my 200 time dropping down and I think that's the key," said Gay.

"I'm healthy and for me to open over 44.8 by accident, having not been training in spikes or done any speed work, I think that's amazing."


Gay finished with the silver medal in the 100m at the 2009 World Championships behind Bolt, but missed the showdown with the Jamaican in the 200m because of a groin injury.

An operation on the troublesome problem followed in November last year, but a fully recovered Gay believes he can challenge Bolt for gold at the 2011 World Championships in South Korea and the London 2012 Olympics - if he stays free of injuries.

"I think 2006 was the last time I was injury free for the whole season and I had a very successful season that year," he said.

"I am really looking forward to staying healthy going into a World Championship year.

"My groin does feel 100% and I'm very happy about that. I'm not looking for any minor setbacks right now."

Gay has also targeted lowering his personal 100m best of 9.69 seconds - the second fastest time in history - and challenge Bolt's world record 9.58secs, set in Berlin last year.

"I've already programmed my mind to run faster than 9.69 this year," said Gay, who is six inches shorter than the 6ft 5in Bolt.

Tommie Smith and Tyson Gay
Smith will watch Gay attempt to beat his 44-year-old mark

"t's not necessarily unfair, just unfortunate that he's taller than me.

"It actually allows me to look at myself at being a greater talent, able to run not necessarily as fast as him but close to his times despite only being 5ft 11ins.

"He has the turnover and the stride length and I have the turnover, a shorter stride and I am still trying to cover as much ground.

"I guess its not even height-wise but at the same time there's nothing I can do about that."

Gay is confident the straight track in Manchester will help him generate that extra bit of speed.

"I've been running around a bend all my life and everyone knows a straight line is always faster than running around a curve," added Gay.

"But at the same time I think running a straightaway plays a lot of mind games with the person.

"If you are running fast on a straightaway your body may fatigue early as well. I think it's all about the mind, it kind of controls the body in that type of race."

Gay will be competing against Panama sprinter Alonso Edwards on the specially erected track, which was first used along the streets of Manchester at the 2009 Great City Games.

There, triple Olympic champion Bolt set a new world record time of 14.35 seconds in the 150m race.

This year, Olympic gold medallist Christine Ohuruogu will go head-to-head with fellow Brit Jessica Ennis, the world heptathlon and pentathlon holder, over 150m.

Smith's career highlight was winning 200m gold at the 1968 Games, becoming the first man to dip under the 20-second mark, but is perhaps best remembered for his "Black Power" salute alongside countryman John Carlos during the medal presentation.

Usain Bolt winning the 150m in Manchester

Watch Usain Bolt set the 150m world record in Manchester in 2009

see also
Ohuruogu and Ennis to race 150m
14 Apr 10 |  Athletics
Superb Bolt storms to 150m record
17 May 09 |  Athletics
Highlights: Gay claims second gold medal
30 Aug 07 |  Athletics

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