Tyson Gay breaks Tommie Smith's 200m mark in Manchester
SUMMER OF ATHLETICS BEGINS 19 May: Usain Bolt's season debut at Daegu Pre-Championships, South Korea 1055-1345 BST live on BBC Red Button (UK users only)
Imperious Gay breaks 200m record
Tyson Gay set a new world record for the straight 200m with a stunning run at the Great City Games in Manchester.
The American world 100m silver medallist stormed ahead of Kim Collins to clock 19.41 seconds and beat Tommie Smith's 44-year-old mark by 0.09.
"It was truly amazing and it was a tough record to break," said Gay.
Texan Smith, who won gold at the 1968 Games in Mexico City, was trackside to witness Gay's efforts into a headwind and said: "It was a great race."
Olympic and world sprint champion Usain Bolt may not have been present in Manchester on Sunday but it was a superb performance by Gay and sends out a clear message to his Jamaican rival at the start of a new outdoors season.
On the specially constructed track, Gay clocked a phenomenal 9.88 in the opening 100 metres and despite tiring legs, finished up with the second 100 metres in 9.53.
Former world 100m champion Collins could only watch Gay's heels as he finished in second with 20.59, while Ireland's Paul Hession was third in 20.66.
"Going into the race I knew it was going to be tough to beat the record," Gay added. "It was pretty hard for the first 100m or so and I was extremely tired. Kim Collins had an excellent start and I think that motivated me to get down the street."
Gay came into the race in impressive form. Winning the 400m at the Tom Jones Classic in Gainesville, Florida on 17 April meant he became the first man to go under 10 seconds for the 100m, 20 seconds for the 200m and 45 seconds over 400m.
After finishing with silver in the 100m at the 2009 World Championships behind Bolt, Gay missed the showdown with the Jamaican in the 200m because of a groin injury.
After an operation last November, Gay now seems fit and ready to push Bolt all the way and with the form of Jamaican Asafa Powell, who ran 9.81 at the inaugural Diamond League meeting in Doha, the sprinting stage looks set for more fireworks in the coming months.
On the prospect of overcoming the might of Bolt, Gay said: "He's in another class right now but I'm working hard to get there. The challenge is for me to work hard to get to where he is at."
Why I gave 'Black Power Salute' - Tommie Smith
The world record for the 200m over the straight was last broken on 7 May 1966 in San Jose by Smith as a 21-year-old when he covered the distance in 19.5.
In 1966 he set world records around a bend over 200m/220y, missed the world 100m record by 0.1 second and ran a 400m relay leg in 43.8, when no man had run faster than 44.9 from blocks.
He was also a world-class long jumper, broke more world records at 400m/440y in 1967 and went on to win the 1968 Olympic 200m in Mexico City with the first ever legitimate electrically timed sub-20.
In the 1960s, the straight 200m was a separate world record event for men before the sport's governing body (IAAF) deleted this variation from its list of official records.
On the same Deansgate track last year in Manchester, Bolt ran the fastest ever 150m in a time of in 14.35.
Bolt sets fastest 150m in 2009 on the same track in Manchester
This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.