Former 100m champion to replicate 'Cool Runnings'

Tyson Gay. Photo / AP
Tyson Gay. Photo / AP

Former world 100m champion Tyson Gay will switch from the track to the ice this week when he competes in the USA Bobsled National Push Championships in Calgary.

Gay, who won 100m, 200m and 4x100m gold at the 2007 world championships in Osaka, Japan, joins fellow sprinter Ryan Bailey in the competition. Gay, 34, and Bailey, 27, represented half of the United States' 4x100m relay team which won silver at London 2012, only to be stripped of their medals after the former tested positive for a banned substance in 2013, with his results backdated to before the Olympics.

"I'm still not over it," Bailey said last month about having his medal taken away.

A Team USA media release revealed Gay, who has competed at the past three summer Olympics and is the joint second fastest 100m sprinter in history, has only had "a handful of days' experience pushing a sled".

Bailey, though, has impressed bobsleigh coaches, having won the preliminary push championships on dry land in Lake Placid, New York, last month. This week's championships are a mandatory step for any athlete hoping to join the United States team this season.

Gay's speed gives him a chance to make a huge splash despite his limited experience. His all-time best in the 100m is 9.69 seconds, a time bettered only by three-time reigning Olympic 100m champion and world-record-holder Usain Bolt of Jamaica.

The situation is reminiscent of the 1993 film Cool Runnings, where several Jamaican sprinters who fail to qualify for the Summer Olympics form a bobsleigh team to compete in the Winter Olympics instead. It's loosely based on a true story.

Gay follows a long line of speedsters who will try to push a sled, a list that includes Lauryn Williams - a medallist in both the summer and winter Games - as well as longtime US hurdles star Lolo Jones, Rio Games double gold medallist Tianna Bartoletta and former men's competitors Edwin Moses, Willie Davenport and Renaldo Nehemiah.

Former Aussie track star Jana Pittman-Rawlinson also made the switch from 400m runner to Winter Olympics competitor, competing in the two-person bobsleigh event in Sochi two years ago.


Jones, a 2014 Sochi Olympian, will be in the women's push competition, as will 2014 Olympic bronze medallist Aja Evans.

In all, 56 competitors are entered in the championships, which start with solo events Wednesday and combination events Friday and Saturday.

Drivers will analyse results before selecting their team for national team trials, which begin in Lake Placid next month.

- news.com.au

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