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Speed Bump
TIM LAYDEN
June 20, 2011
Tyson Gay lost a close 100 meters in New York, but America's fastest man is still driving for Usain Bolt
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June 20, 2011

Speed Bump

Tyson Gay lost a close 100 meters in New York, but America's fastest man is still driving for Usain Bolt

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• A talented generation of U.S. sprinters and hurdlers emerged in the middle of the 2000s to replace the likes of Michael Johnson, Maurice Greene and the later-disgraced Marion Jones. From the '04 Olympics through the '09 worlds, Kerron Clement, Allyson Felix, Justin Gatlin, Tyson Gay, Bershawn Jackson, LaShawn Merritt, Sanya Richards-Ross, Wallace Spearmon, Jeremy Wariner and Lauryn Williams combined for 60 Olympic and world championship medals in individual events and relays.

Thirteen months before the 2012 Games, only Gay, Felix (who won the 200 on Saturday), Jackson (a close second to Puerto Rico's Javier Culson in the 400 hurdles) and Wariner (who won the 400) are performing like definite medal threats.

Most notably among the faded: Gatlin, 29, the 2004 Olympic 100-meter gold medalist, is coming off a four-year steroid suspension and has just recently dipped back under 10 seconds. Richards-Ross, 26, the '08 Olympic bronze medalist, '09 world champion at 400 meters and the fastest U.S. woman in history at the distance (48.70 in '06), continues to struggle with injuries and illness and hasn't broken 50 seconds since '09. As the defending world champion, Richards-Ross has a wild card into Daegu, but her best time early in '11 is a very modest 50.98.

Williams, 27, the surprise Olympic 100-meter silver medalist in 2004, equally surprising world champion in '05 and world silver medalist in '07 (she also made the 100-meter final in Beijing and at the '09 worlds), took off almost all of '10 after the death of her father. Her best time this year is 11.15 at the Prefontaine Classic, good for just eighth place in a race where a brisk-but-legal tailwind swept five women to times of 11.00 or faster.

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