Gay stays on track for sprint double

After winning the 100 meters over archrival Asafa Powell in a thrilling weekend final, Tyson Gay continued his quest for a sprint double at the world champ

updated: August 29, 2007 07:44 IST
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After winning the 100 meters over archrival Asafa Powell in a thrilling weekend final, Tyson Gay continued his quest for a sprint double at the world championships on Tuesday.

Gay contained himself in the bend of the 200 opening heat, briefly powered through to take the lead and then looked left and right for challengers as he coasted to 20.46 seconds.

"I feel pretty sluggish. I didn't want to run that fast, but my competitors are tough and they gave a tough run the first round," he said.

Gay already ran the second fastest 200 ever earlier this season, and combined with the confidence boost the 100 title gives him, he is an overwhelming favorite for a second gold.

And if the US team is in shape for the weekend sprint relay, he could end up with a triple gold-medal haul.

His teammate and main rival, Wallace Spearman, also advanced.

In the 400, another top favorite coasted just as easily in the muggy, overcast conditions. Fellow American Jeremy Wariner almost turned the end of his opening heat into a walk, slowly jogging over the line and stopping right after it while others were straining to get close.

"I felt good. Shut it down at the 250," said Wariner. Even when almost at a standstill at the line, he still finished in 45.10 seconds, just 1.60 seconds outside his top time this year.

"It is that fast," he said of the Nagai Stadium track. But is it fast enough for him to challenge the world record 43.18 set by his mentor Michael Johnson?

"I do not want to talk about the world record now," Wariner said.

The defending champion was joined by teammates LaShawn Merritt and Angelo Taylor in the next round of an event where the United States is looking for a sweep of the medals.

The U.S. team leads the medals standings with 2 gold and 7 overall, ahead of Ethiopia, Belarus and Kenya with three.

Russia got a gold medal Monday and was counting on a second late Tuesday when Yelena Isinbayeva seeks to defend her pole vault title. Two years ago she did it with a world record.

After a change of style, there would be no better way to celebrate it than with her 21st record, and her first since the 5.01 leap at the world championships in Helsinki.

Maria Mutola, 34, once used to be as dominating in the 800 as Isinbayeva is in the pole vault. After a dip, she has been performing well this year, good enough to hope for her first gold at the worlds since 2003 and her fourth overall. Kenya's Janeth Jepkosgei left the best impression during the semifinals.

Another veteran seeking to recapture glory and gold is Felix Sanchez in the 400 hurdles. The Olympic champion has been slowed by injury since 2004, yet looked sharp enough during the heats here. And he will not have to deal with defending champion Bershawn Jackson, who stumbled at the last hurdle in the semifinals.

The women's long jump is Tuesday's other final.