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Olympic Sports
Tim Layden
September 03, 2007
Dash Flash By surging past Asafa Powell in their showdown at the worlds, Tyson Gay became the Olympic favorite in the 100
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September 03, 2007

Olympic Sports

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Luis Yanez The Dallas waiter has chewed up eight straight opponents en route to winning gold at the Pan Am Games last month and earning an Olympic berth last Saturday.
AGE: 18 HT: 5'3"
Rau'shee Warren Warren, who was the youngest U.S. male Olympian in any sport in 2004, could become the first U.S. boxer to qualify for two Games since Davey Armstrong in 1976.
AGE: 20 HT: 5'4"
Gary Russell Jr. Russell, the son of a former pro heavyweight—and one of five siblings named Gary—was the only winner to have advanced through the challengers' bracket.
AGE: 19 HT: 5' 5"
Raynell Williams A fast starter who sometimes blows an early lead, Williams avenged a Saturday loss to close friend Hylon Williams Jr. by edging him 24-22 on Sunday.
AGE: 18 HT: 5' 6"
Sadam Ali Sadam would be the first fighter with the last name Ali to compete on a U.S. Olympic team. (That other guy went by Cassius Clay as an amateur.)
AGE: 18 HT: 5' 8"
Javier Molina The son of a Mexican boxer, Molina has a 3.8 GPA in five high school honors classes. He is eyeing a pro career and hopes to attend UCLA.
AGE: 17 HT: 5' 9"
Demitrius Andrade Many coaches feel that Andrade, a southpaw who mixes speed and a devastating inside game, may be the team's most skilled fighter.
AGE: 19 HT: 5' 11"
Shawn Estrada Estrada, who came in second at the Pan Am Games, is a surfing enthusiast and is studying fire technology; he plans to become a firefighter after his career is over.
AGE: 22 HT: 6' 0"
Christopher Downs The Army staff sergeant served in Iraq in 2004. A boxer for just four years, he will be the oldest U.S. Olympic fighter ever. (The cutoff age is 34.)
AGE: 32 HT: 6' 4"
Deontay Wilder Wilder dedicated his win to his daughter, Naieya, 2, born with spina bifida. To support her, he works as a truck driver and in the kitchen at a Red Lobster.
AGE: 21 HT: 6' 7"
Michael Hunter Hunter's father was a former heavyweight pro champion. Hunter has risen fast; just a year ago he was so out of shape, he couldn't complete a two-mile run.
AGE: 19 HT: 6' 2"

Dash Flash
By surging past Asafa Powell in their showdown at the worlds, Tyson Gay became the Olympic favorite in the 100

ON SUNDAY afternoon, several hours before the 100-meter final at the world track and field champion-ships in Osaka, Japan, Tyson Gay prayed with his mother, Daisy Lowe, to help him overcome his nerves. Later, while warming up for the race with former Olympic sprinter Jon Drummond, who helps coach him, Gay questioned his talent, worthiness and preparation for what lay ahead.

"This is normal," Drummond told Gay. "You're nervous on the big stage. If you weren't questioning yourself, I'd be worried about you."

In the 100 final Gay would face world-record holder Asafa Powell of Jamaica, and the winner would become the favorite to win gold at the 2008 Olympics next August in Beijing. Gay is supremely fast but has needed help with his start. Powell would surely be in front early in the race. "I told him, 'If Asafa has [only] a step on you at 60 meters, you're winning this race,'" says Drummond. "Run past him and then throw your hands in the air at the finish."

Drummond turned out to be right. Powell led early but stiffened, as he did in the 2004 Olympic final. "That's the way Asafa runs," says three-time world champion and 2000 Olympic gold medalist Maurice Greene. "When Asafa is by himself, he can run fast all day. But not when somebody is next to him, running fast. His technique breaks down."

Gay blew past at 70 meters, and while he did not throw his hands in the air, he yelled in exultation at the finish. "Just screaming for joy," he said. Despite a 0.5-meters-per-second headwind, Gay had a time of 9.85 seconds, just .01 off his personal best.

It was only the beginning for the 25-year-old Gay, both in Osaka and for the months to follow. At the worlds Gay was now in position to become the first man to win three gold medals in one championships since Greene did it in 1999. Gay was a solid favorite in the 200 on Aug. 30 and would run on the U.S. 4�100-meter relay on Sept. 1.

At the U.S. nationals in June, Gay won the 200 in 19.62 seconds into the wind, the second-fastest time in history behind Michael Johnson's epic 19.32 at the '96 Olympics. "He's going to go crazy in the 200," says Greene. "Nobody is going to reach Michael's time in the next 10 years, at least, but I expect Tyson to run faster than he ever has in his life. The 200 is a little more relaxed race." It is also the race in which Gay finished a disappointing fourth at the '05 world championships in Helsinki, behind a U.S. sweep. "I got left out," he said earlier this summer. "I think I just wasn't ready to handle the pressure at that time."

The U.S. 4�100 relay team is not exceptionally strong after Gay and former Arkansas teammate Wallace Spearmon but should be strong enough, with efficient baton passing, to contend for the title. Three golds would leave Gay at the vortex of U.S. Olympic scrutiny for nearly a year, somewhere south of Michael Phelps, but north of nearly everyone else.

Kidd Takes Charge
When the national team arrived in Las Vegas in July for minicamp, USA basketball director Jerry Colangelo assembled the players and spoke to them about rebounding from last year's embarrassing third-place finish at the world championships in Japan. Colangelo urged them to focus on winning the FIBA Americas Championship to earn a berth in the 2008 Olympics, and then he put the spotlight on point guard Jason Kidd, the only gold medalist on the team. "I said, 'Take a look at him,'" says Colangelo. "'He has never lost in international competition. And he has what you want.'" When Colangelo finished, Kidd, who won gold at the 2000 Games in Sydney, turned to LeBron James and said, "I didn't come here to lose."

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